Cassopolis council pursuing grant fundingPublished 6:58pm Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The Cassopolis Village Council discussed the possibility of pursuing the State of Michigan’s Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater Grant (SAW Grant) at its board meeting Monday night.
The grant is the result of $450 million leftover from a voter-approved motion in 2012 to use the money from the Great Lakes Water Quality Bond, of which, $97 million of that money will be distributed this year.
The grant is awarded based on a first-come first-served basis, unless over $97 million is applied for. In that case, the applicants will be drawn from a pool until $97 million is reached after which the remaining applicants will receive funding the following year.
The grants are available for up to $2 million with a ten percent match for the first million and a 25 percent match for the second. Once receiving funding, the village would have three years to use the money.
Village manager Cynthia LaGrow said applying for the grant was ‘necessary’ and that it would be up to the council to apply for the grant and then follow through with the implementation.
Mickey Bitner of Wightman and Associates, an engineering, surveying and architectural firm in Benton Harbor, said the grant would allow the village to install advanced technology such as a GIS system. GIS is software that would map the city and could include the location and status of sewage lines, manholes, site plans, work orders, and even property information.
“The community has a need to know the conditions of its assets, especially underground,” Bitner said. “With things like sewage lines you don’t know about problems until they happen. There are areas with roots coming through and holes. With this technology we could video tape the sewers and assess problems before they happen.”
LaGrow said, “It would have been helpful in situations like we had here on Broadway where there was a break and we thought it was here but then it ended up being in three spots. I can think of four occasions at least where it would have been helpful.”
Also at the meeting, the council approved the motion to apply to the Main Street program (see related story page 1). The program trains community members to encourage increased involvement in the community. There is no cost to apply or be involved, though LaGrow did say it would cost some volunteers time to sit on the program board.
“It’s so beneficial when grants become available,” LaGrow said. “Granters look to those involved with the Main Street program first before they open them up to the public.”
At the meeting, LaGrow announced that the village would be posting two full-time public works positions. One position will be an equipment operator 1 and the other will either be another equipment operator 1 or general laborer. LaGrow said these are not creating additional positions, but they are bringing the village up to full staff level.
The council also approved Oct. 14 for the date for a public hearing for Postle Aluminum’s tax abatement. Postle Aluminum is investing $10,267,000 in Cassopolis over the next eight months LaGrow said. She said it will bring a tremendous increase in taxes and giving them a tax abatement would be a great way to pay it forward to a company that is investing so much in the community.
The next village council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.