Russellville gearing up for water tower funding

Thursday, June 17, 2021
Russellville Water Tower

RUSSELLVILLE — Town officials and the community at large in Russellville are now again looking forward to grant funding to replace the town’s dilapidated water tower.

The Russellville Town Council held a hearing Wednesday evening at which Amy Miller of Cornerstone Grant Management gave an overview of reapplying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).

She related that the town was essentially submitting the same project to OCRA as it did last year. The difference, she said, is that the state will have more funds to allocate.

The CDBG grant would cover $700,000 of the projected $1.32 million improvement. This would entail a local match of $620,000 with loans through the Indiana State Revolving Fund (SRF).

The project involves dismantling the current water tower and building a new 50,000-gallon one. This would also include new water mains to the water tower and new tanks.

The final application would be due on June 25, with the project announcements planned later on Aug. 12. Miller emphasized that the town was ahead due to having a preliminary engineering report (PER) and other elements such as land acquisition completed.

The council also heard input from Brian Bullock of Beam, Longest and Neff about new grants for water infrastructure. Through its State Water Infrastructure Fund (SWIF), the state will administer $100 million from the American Rescue Plan for water improvements. The money will be distributed evenly in two grant rounds.

Bullock said the town had to be done with a project design by the end of this year, with bids going out in April 2021. Construction would have to be under way by July 1, 2021.

One caveat of the SWIF funding is that specific grant amounts would be determined by the state. He added, however, that they would be based on the town’s rates and median income. As such, the state would offer either a 50-percent or a 75-percent matching grant.

Another concern is that the town cannot co-mingle federal funds. With this being acknowledged, Bullock suggested that the SWIF application be treated as separate, even as it might go toward the water tower project.

The council approved to go ahead with submitting the application.

Town Attorney Stu Weliever added that the town had to engage counsel to ensure the validity of bonds issued for the project. The council agreed for Weliever to use his discretion in identifying a firm.

In other business:

• Clerk-Treasurer Martha Mandleco said she had been approached by Thrive West Central about partnering with the county for a blight removal grant through OCRA. This would concern ruined buildings in the downtown which the county owns.

Mandleco noted that the town cannot engage in another OCRA grant, as municipalities can only do one per year. Besides professing that the buildings were ultimately the county’s issue, she said the town did not have the financial resources to contribute to the removal.

Joining Mandleco and Weliever for the meeting were council members Cary McGaughey, Norma Jean Gross and Cathy Jones, as well as Town Marshal Matt Biggs.

The next regular meeting of the Russellville Town Council is scheduled for Wednesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. at the Russellville Community Center.

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