Tonasket will apply for CDBG funds for sewer & water extension

Mayor Patrick Plumb

Mayor Patrick Plumb

TONASKET – The city council is applying for a Community Development Block Grant in order to find funding to extend sewer and water services south of Tonasket.

During the city council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 12, the council and residents from the area where services will be extended to heard a presentation from Mark Varela regarding the grant process, as well as more information about the project. Everyone present at the meeting was handed several pages of information regarding the project, which Varela went over and answered questions on.

“The purpose of the project is to extend the City of Tonasket’s pubic sanitary sewer system to a residential area south of the City along both sides of Bonaparte Creek and to replace the existing aging and substandard City water system which serves the same area,” reads one page, titled CDBG General Purpose Grant Application Public Hearing Overview. “Bonaparte Creek water quality studies indicate that these old and substandard on-site sewage systems are likely the source of the documented presence of human coliform bacteria in the creek. The on-site sewage systems may also contribute to observed brown algae growth in the creek and the overall degradation of water quality that negatively impacts fish. The proposed public sewer collection system will address water quality and health issues related to present contamination of the creek. Replacement of the substandard existing water system may result in less use of private individual wells and thus less impact on groundwater/surface water resources in the Bonaparte Creek area.”

City Councilmember Jean Ramsey said she feels it is important to point out to city residents that this project is being done now before the state steps in for water quality issues. Varela said the project design and construction is estimated to cost approximately $1.5 million.

“Right now, construction projects are coming in at lower prices than three years ago,” Varela said. “You couldn’t do this project for cheaper.”

According to the project overview, the city will seek up to $1 million in grant money from the CDBG’s General Purpose program. Other potential sources of finances include a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan and city reserves. The city’s engineer then presented five financing option scenarios to the council. The council listened and then chose to work on a plan that seeks funding that ranges between the numbers laid out in scenarios four and five, but have not made any definite decisions yet. Since the pavement has to be removed before sewer and water lines can be laid down, the city wants to do both projects at the same time, which will save the city money.

For the purposes of applying for the CDBG grant by the Jan. 21 deadline, the council moved to authorize Varela and Associates to prepare the CDBG application, work with the mayor on details on a conceptual funding plan of $829,000 to $850,000 or more. A total of $115,000 to $125,000 would come from sewer reserves with a payback of $15 a year from new customers for 10 years with a $45 a month fee for project area customers, $25,000 coming from city reserves for the water project and to apply for RD loan and to authorize the mayor to sign applicable documents. The city council also approved Resolution #2010-01 Community Development Block Grant General Purpose Program with Certificates of Compliance.

The resolution states that the “City of Tonasket authorizes submission of this application to the Washington State Department of Commerce to request up to $1 million for the design and construction of the Bonaparte Creek Sewer and Water Project.”

During the reports from the department heads, Councilmember Connie Maden said she has been approached by city residents about the swimming pool project.

“It was brought to my attention that there may be federal funds available to develop a YMCA since the closest is over 55 miles away,” Maden said.

The council decided to do more research on this possibility and discuss it further at a later meeting.

Further on in the meeting the council decided to write a letter of support for the North Valley Hospital District’s CDBG application despite new mayor Patrick Plumb’s objection.

“If we’re going to ask for the maximum amount for our CDBG application, it may not be the best idea to support a competing application,” Plumb said.

Councilmember Joyce Fancher stated a disagreeing opinion pointing out that the hospital district is such a large employer in the city and that the council needs to support them. Councilmembers Julianna Griffin and Jill Vugteveen agreed and the motion was passed to write the letter of support. Due to her position working with the hospital, Maden abstained from voting while Ramsey voted against the motion.

Fancher was then nominated to continue on in her position as Mayor Pro Temp for the next two years. Also during the meeting, the Oath of Office was administered to Plumb, Maden and Ramsey.

The next city council meeting will be on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.