MP may get in line

By on March 5, 2009

Federal stimulus bill presents opportunity for village
by Lynn Meredith
For the right project, there could be money available from the federal stimulus bill for use in Maple Park, but the possibility comes with caveats. Village Engineer Ralph Tompkins spelled out for the Village Board what it needs to consider in applying for this money on Tuesday.

“Some things have become very clear about how things are going to work, and some things are as muddy as they ever have been,” Tompkins said. “What I’m talking about is money that is going to come through the Illinois EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It is only good for sanitary and water projects. I’m not talking roads. I’m not talking storm sewers. I’m not talking buildings or anything like that.”

All projects will be funded by the IEPA low-interest loan program that has been in place for decades. A village would apply for the loan, and if eligible, it would get a loan at about 2.5 percent. The stimulus money would be new funds added to the money available for low-interest loans, so the pot is bigger, Tompkins said.

For example, on a $1 million project, the loan would be written for $1 million. The IEPA would forgive $250,000, or 25 percent. The village would never have to pay back that money. The remaining $750,000, or 75 percent, is loaned for 20 years at zero percent interest.

“It’s a pretty good deal. You still have to come up with the 75 percent, but you don’t have to come up with it up front. You can pay if off over 20 years,” Tompkins said.

Due to the amount of paperwork to apply and the cost to the village for that work, Tompkins recommended that the village not apply to get a loan on a small project. He said that a water main project or a sanitary sewer replacement were appropriate projects. Storm water improvements cannot be done under this program.

Tompkins also pointed out that the key to getting the loan is speed. Therefore, the water tower project isn’t far enough along to be ready in time to qualify.

“The only criteria is who can get it submitted, approved and bid first. There’s a fixed amount of money, and when it’s gone, nobody gets any more,” Tompkins said.

The board plans to take up the topic at a combined Streets and Water and Sewer Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 10, at 6 p.m.