Boyne City to apply for $760,000 SAW grant

stormwater managementBy Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson presented an application proposal for a Stormwater Asset Management Wastewater Grant and Loan Program (SAW) to the Boyne City Commission on Nov. 12.

“We are requesting funding for asset management plans for wastewater and stormwater and development of a stormwater management plan,” he said. “In addition, funding requests will be made for GIS software and computer hardware.”
McPherson added, “It’s a great opportunity for us to supplement our already robust GIS system.”

McPherson said the city’s GIS system is getting older and ending its useful life.

“In addition to the stormwater asset management plan it should be noted that funding is being requested for development of a stormwater ordinance,” he said. “I would give us a good opportunity to develop a specific stormwater ordinance tailored to the unique characteristics of the city.”

McPherson said there were concerns, back when discussion of a county stormwater ordinance were held, that a county-wide one-size-fits-all ordinance may not be right for Boyne City.

Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said he anticipates intense demand and competition for this grant program.

“It’s probably highly unlikely that we’d get in the first round,” Cain said. “Almost every community I’m talking to is working on this type of an application because they see what are basically, for every dollar you put in you get probably another nine back.”

Cain said this process could take a couple years before the city is successful.

If successful, the city would need to put up nearly $70,000 in matching funds over three years.

“Any time where you can get ninety cents on the dollar whether you’re replacing software, hardware, training, I think it’s an excellent opportunity,” Cain said.

C2ae Engineering put the application together for a cost of nearly $4,000.

If the city is successful in garnering the grant, it could recoup part of the nearly $75,000 it spends in matching funds, in addition to the grant moneys sought.

Through this program, municipalities are eligible for up to $2 million worth of grant funds with a 10 percent match on the first million dollars, and a 25 percent match on the second million dollars.

There is $97 million available for year 2014 as a result of the Great Lakes Water Quality Bond that voters approved in 2002.

Ultimately, the city could get $760,000 for an outlay of just under $60,000.

Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said thinks it is only “smart business” to go through with the grant.

“We get ninety cents back on the dollar and the state’s going to make us do it anyway,” he said.

Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord pointed to a provision that states the city must repay the grant within 90 days or at eight percent per year if the city were to deviate in any way on how it is supposed to use grant moneys and administer the grant overall.

Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch also said he had some questions and concerns about that.

“There’s strings like this with every grant we apply for,” Cain said, adding that the city is very careful in how it implements the grants it receives.

Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom inquired about the time-line of the plan’s implementation.

C2ae officials said the state wants to see a time-line established that lays out how the city intends to implement its plans.

Sansom said she was in favor of the plan.

Grunch asked how long after the costs are incurred will the money be refunded.

C2ae officials said as long as the bills are submitted on a regular basis the funding will be released in a timely manner.

The Boyne City Commission voted unanimously to apply for the grant.