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Medora approved for wastewater loan: City to get $1.7M, but offer comes with conditions

MEDORA — The city of Medora has been approved for a loan that would allow the building of a much-needed $7.9 million wastewater treatment facility, officials said Tuesday.

But, the $1.7 million loan comes with a few conditions. The first — the removal of a cap on sales taxes to benefit Medora’s capital improvement fund — was unanimously passed by the city council during a regular meeting. The cap was formerly $600,000, city attorney Sandy Kuntz said.

The loan is administered by the Public Finance Authority’s State Revolving Fund. About 30 percent of the loan’s total could end up being forgiven, pending successful completion of the treatment facility.

Discussion of an increase in sewage rates for residents also tied to the loan requirements was pushed to city council’s June 3 meeting, Medora Mayor Doug Ellison said.

Council members spoke about the wastewater project with representatives from Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc., commonly abbreviated as AE2S. The engineering firm will help the city to prepare for construction.

AE2S will introduce the project to the public, develop an environmental report, coordinate efforts with the U.S. Forest Service and provide administrative correspondence, according to its contract with Medora.

Moving forward with the wastewater facility depends on receiving money from the state’s Energy Infrastructure and Impact Grant Program. The city applied for a $5.6 million grant, but does not expect for it to be fully funded because of a lack of state funds, Ellison said.

The city will find out if it receives the grant in June. It was denied once already, Ellison said.

AE2S project manager Loren Hoffman advised the board to go directly to state government leaders to plead its case

“This problem will not got away. To ignore it would probably not be wise,” Hoffman said. “To attack and try to resolve it is recommended.”

AE2S financial analyst Ryan Graf said a bond counsel must be hired to assess the loan’s legality, which will cost the city between $5,000 and $10,000.

The wastewater facility would be located near the Bully Pulpit Golf Course and could be completed by 2016. The city decided last year that an improved treatment would benefit its 116 all-season residents, as well as seasonal inhabitants and tourists.

City council introduced its new auditor Carla Steffen, who was hired last month. The council also delayed a plan to patch and chip seal streets until the first week of September because of weather.