Council puts finishing touches on sewer funding requests


BROWNSTOWN — A $7.35 million project to improve the aging wastewater treatment system that serves this community of nearly 3,000 could begin sometime next fall.

The project, however, hinges on the town’s ability to secure funding for the work, which includes rehabilitation of the wastewater treatment plant and the Bob Thomas and Vallonia Road lift stations. The Bob Thomas lift station is more than 40 years old, while the Vallonia Road lift station, which serves 75% of the town, is more than 35 years old and is at capacity.

The Brownstown Town council has been working to obtain funds for the work for the better part of a year and recently turned the corner by approving a resolution to apply for a $700,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Rural and Community Affairs.

They also approved a second resolution applying for $6.56 million from the State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. Both resolutions were OK’d after public hearings during a town council meeting in early December.

Grant consultant Bridgett Weber with Priority Project Resources of Greensburg said the deadline for the OCRA grant is Friday. A decision about that grant would not be made until early February 2022.

“We will either get all or none of that,” she said. “If some reason we aren’t successful the first round, then the plan is to go into the first round of 2022.”

The State Revolving Fund money won’t be available until July 2022 because the program has run out of money for this year, Weber said.

She said the maximum the town would be borrowing from that program is $6.56 million.

Weber said as much as half of those loans could come in the form of forgivable, meaning they would not have to be repaid.

That would play into how much of the improvements town residents would have to pay for through increased rates.

Weber said the maximum rate increase right now if none of the $6.56 million is forgivable would be $30 a month.

“But obviously, if you can get some of these forgivable loans, then the $30 would be coming down,” she said.

One of the biggest concerns raised by at least one council member revolved around the town failing to obtain all of the funding for the improvements.

Councilwoman Sharon Koch asked if the plan could be revised if the town didn’t receive all of the funding.

“Once you find out what your final totals are, then you would have the opportunity to do that (revise the plan),” Weber said.

She said the town does not have to borrow all or any of the SRF money if the OCRA grant is not approved.

She also said the council would probably not be able to put the project out for bid until the SRF monies become available.

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