Purdy needs surveys returned

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

94 surveys still needed to secure $500,000 sewer grant

Purdy city officials need 94 more surveys returned documenting household income to prove that the city qualifies for federal funding to run its sewer main to Monett for treatment.

The $4.6 million project remains on hold while the city pursues additional funding options.

According to Mayor Steve Roden, the city has qualified for a $1.71 million grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, and a pledge for a $4 million low-interest loan to cover the balance of the project. To qualify for both, the city has asked for documentation of income from residents. Under federal standards, residents must pay 2 percent of the median household income for sewer, which is calculated off the federal census. The city sent surveys to residents, but has not yet received 20 percent back to document the community qualifies for funding.

"We're getting to the point where the people who have not returned the survey are either not home during the day or won't fill out the survey no matter what," said Clerk Debbie Redshaw.

Mayor Steve Roden asked Redshaw to contact Sue Bacorn, with the Southwest Missouri Council on Governments, for another sampling list if necessary. He indicated city employees and aldermen may have to go door to door to collect the needed information. With the documentation, Roden said the city should secure a $500,000 federal Community Development Block Grant.

By Roden's calculations, the city should reach the 2 percent of median income level once sewer rates are raised to approximately $51 a month, about $10 more per month than the current charge. Under previous calculations, residents would not hit the 2 percent qualifying level unless rates rose to $61 a month. Since voters approved the bond issue on Nov. 3, 2015, to pay for sewer project, aldermen have not raised sewer rates until the final needed amount had been calculated.

"With the funding we've got now, we would be paying 2.88 percent, which is around $73 a month," Roden said. "That's unaffordable, in my view. I'm trying to get some other help."

In the agreement that the Purdy City Council signed with the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Purdy legal counsel insisted the agreement would only be binding if the cost to Purdy residents was affordable.

"DNR doesn't like that," Roden said. "How good that stands up, I don't know. DNR is forcing us to do this. I'd like to see them help."

Roden noted that DNR had offered a 75 percent grant to towns piping their effluent to larger towns. Funding for that program expired in 2015, before Purdy passed its bond issue, and is now capped at $2 million.

"We're not married to borrowing from DNR and EPA," Roden said. "We're still looking. I don't feel good about the numbers yet. We're in the process now trying to make this com out. We're trying to get everything we can."

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