By DAVID GREEN
Fayette’s sewer project took on a new dimension last week when village officials learned about a change in funding. This time around, the news is good.
A few months ago, possible funding through the USDA was to cover 45 percent of the $7 million project, but that slipped to just 28 percent before the end of the year.
Even at 45 percent, residents would have faced a difficult payment schedule to cover the remaining costs, said Fayette mayor Ruth Marlatt, but the 28 percent figure would have made it unbearable. Sewer rates would have increased by an estimated $33 a month.
Marlatt knew from talking with Roberta Acosta of the Rural Community Assistance Program that Fayette might be able to change its standing in the competitive grant application standings and obtain more help with the work.
That’s just what happened. Acosta made some changes and interim village administrator Tom Clemensen learned last week that a grant from the EPA would cover 75 percent of the cost. This leaves the village to pay back a zero percent loan for $1.6 million over the next 30 years.
If council members accept the package of grants and loans, residents will face an increase of about $10 a month on their sewage bill.
The work will complete the separation of the community’s storm water sewer lines from the septic lines and put an end to combined sewer overflows, a condition that sends raw sewage into area creeks.
Morenci undertook the same work in the early 1990s. Fayette chose to tackle the project in phases, but this project would wrap up all remaining needs.
Clemensen told the Public Works committee Monday that Acosta is still trying to obtain a grant to cover work that will be needed at particular residences, such as where the sewer line now travels through the back yard rather than to a new line in the street.
The best-case scenario would have construction starting this fall, Clemensen said, rather than a year from now.
He spoke about the savings in electrical costs that will result when storm water is diverted directly to creeks instead of running through the water treatment plant.
The EPA has been fair and patient with Fayette, he said, in allowing the community years to complete the project.