'.09 money' to complete stormwater project

TONASKET – Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb said at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting that he would do whatever he could to secure the final five percent of funding needed to complete the 3rd/5th/6th Street stormwater repair project.

On Monday, April 15, Plumb said the Okanogan County Board of Commissioners approved the use of $19,510 of so-called “.09 money” to complete the funding of the project.

A Transportation Infrastructure Board grant will fund the other 95 percent of the project. Without the final five percent, the city was at risk of losing a nearly $400,000 grant for much needed repairs to streets in the city’s business core.

“I give a lot of credit to the commissioners,” Plumb said. “They looked very closely at how the grant was put together. They saw the project for its value, and really this is what that .09 money is for. This is an opportunity; it would be hard to let $400,000 vanish if we couldn’t come up with $19,000.”

The .09 funding is a portion of state sales tax revenue that is returned to economically depressed counties for county and city governments to direct into projects to help enhance their local economies.

Twenty percent of that is earmarked for “emergent opportunities,” and Plumb said this project perfectly fit that description.

“It’s wise on the state and county’s part to set aside money for those reasons,” Plumb said. “This is right in the middle of downtown, and some of those streets are getting tough to traverse, especially when it rains.

“Opportunities to get state funds are probably going to become a lot more limited in the future, and we’ve been in the right place at the right time to get some of this money for our infrastructure. And that, to me, is what we need to be doing: providing infrastructure so people can live, work and play, and I credit the council for staying on board with this.”

Plumb credited Roni Holder-Diefenbach of the Economic Alliance, and city planner Kurt Danison (Highland Associates) for their work.

“Pretty much all of downtown is going to be torn up,” he said. “But the infrastructure fixes will be well worth it.”