MARY JEAN MAULE
Local boards apply for
a portion of SAW grants
by CHRIS GRAY
The Village of Romeo might be considered disadvantaged when applying for a state grant, but this will serve as an advantage to receive more than $1 million for sewer improvements.
Observer Staff Writer
The Village Board of Trustees voted 6-0 to have Hubbell, Roth and Clark (HRC) apply for a $1 million Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grant at its Nov. 19 meeting. Trustee Ron Rossell was not present.
SAW grants are provided by the state to municipalities to determine the conditions of infrastructure. They cover stormwater management plans, wastewater and stormwater technology and wastewater planning, design and user charge activities.
For Romeo, the grant would pay for an asset management plan. The plan is required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for the village to receive a permit to run the wastewater treatment plant. If an operator is found to be non-compliant, the state can fine them $25,000 a day.
In its first year, $97 million of the available $450 million in SAW grants will be given to applicants. Applicants must file by Dec. 2.
To receive the grant, a 10 percent match must be provided by the recipient. Romeo's match would be $100,000 for a $1 million grant.
Keith McCormack, professional engineer with HRC, serves on the MDEQ's SAW Guidance Committee. He said Romeo is considered a disadvantaged community in the program so it will not have to pay.
"You'll be able to conduct all of this with no match at all," he said.
McCormack said to qualify, the total bond payments plus all operation, maintenance and replacement costs is divided by the number of users. If the sum is more than 10 percent of the median annual household income, a community is considered disadvantaged.
"Your bond payment alone is 70 percent, so right now the numbers are looking very good," he said.
Applicants can pay the match through in-kind service over a period of years as well as through monetary means. By being disadvantaged, Romeo would receive reimbursement for in-kind services.
McCormack said disadvantaged communities can also apply for $500,000 in construction grants, where others would have to take it out as a loan.
McCormack said the qualification has yet to be given by MDEQ, but would be announced prior to receiving a grant in January or early February.
Romeo won't be alone in applying. McCormack said recipients will be chosen based on random selection. Those that don't receive a grant this year have their applications put back in for the following year.
"All this is basically doing is buying you a lottery ticket, because there is going to be more applications than money available," he said.
Romeo Community Schools is also pursuing a SAW grant. The Board of Education voted 7-0 on Nov. 18 to apply for a $22,222 grant. Under the SAW statute, Romeo schools is considered a municipality since it is a publicly-created entity.
In asking for the grant, the district would spend $2,222 on the grant for its match. The district is looking to pay this through in-kind services.
"This is an option that should be cost-free for the district to put this together so we can protect our permit," said Board Treasurer Chris Giancarli.
In October, Bruce Township approved of applying for a $300,000 SAW grant, looking to pay the $30,000 match over three years. The township wants to inspect manholes and video tape sewer lines that are older than 20 years.