City approves SAW grant package

by Angie Asam

Staff Writer

Monday evening the Onaway City Commission approved the Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grant package that has been put together by Randy Scott of C2AE on behalf of the city.

The city is applying for two grants for asset management, one for wastewater and one for stormwater through the program.

Because Onaway is considered a disadvantaged community, it will be receiving 100 percent grant, with no local match needed. The city will be requesting $503,450 to develop a wastewater and stormwater asset management plan.

“As we talked about the last time I was here, this is an asset management program we are approaching here to try and get an assessment of the existing conditions and come up with plans to maintain the systems,” said Scott.

The grants will be announced in the spring, around April 1. The grant period is three years. The SAW grants ask communities to do an asset management study and come up with a plan, including putting money aside, to do both short and long term maintenance and improvements to the system.

The City of Onaway already puts money away under the wastewater or sewer budget as a requirement from the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, which helped provide funding for the city to put the sewer system in place. Scott believes that in the near future an asset management plan is going to be required for the sewer system in order for the wastewater treatment plant to gain its necessary permitting.

“I think the state wants communities to get off the grant kick and stand on their own a little better by taking better care of their assets,” said Scott. He thinks that the state wants to see communities be able to take care of their own water, sewer and stormwater systems without having to depend on grant money so they are dangling money in front of communities to complete an asset management plan and be ready for system improvements that will be needed by working them into their rate structure and putting money away to maintain the systems.

BECAUSE ONAWAY is classified as a disadvantaged community, with the average household income less than the state poverty rate, it will also be eligible for an implementation grant once it receives and completes the asset management grant.

The city commission, after plenty of discussion and many questions of Scott, unanimously approved the grant package.

The grant package will be submitted Nov. 26 as the deadline for submission is Dec. 1 and there is no advantage to getting an application in early.

IN OTHER CITY COMISSION NEWS:

• The commission approved the sale of a city-owned parcel for $200. Cindy Preston recently purchased the home at 3637 Birch Street and expressed an interest in purchasing the parcel to the east of hers which was acquired by the city several years ago as a tax foreclosure.

Both lots are 66-by-66 feet and are legal non-conforming lots. The commission approved the sale of the lot for $200 with a condition that Preston have the lots combined to create one legal lot. By selling the property the city gets it back on the tax rolls and will no longer have to mow the parcel. The property was offered to the previous owners of Preston’s home but they were not interested in purchasing the property.