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City may get zero-interest loans for CSO work

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Vacancies filled on electric, rec boards

By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY – Car companies aren't alone in offering zero-interest financing. Tell City could be in line for up to $11 million in loans, offered at zero or very-low interests, to help control its combined-sewer overflows.

The city has been working for years to control its CSOs and had expected to pay an interest rate of around 3 percent on money from a state revolving loan fund. However, Mayor Barbara Ewing said money could be available at zero to 2 percent.

"We received a call from the (revolving loan-fund's) state office asking if Tell City could be in a position to apply for a second round of money available to communities," Ewing told the common council Feb. 2. The money would come from federal money administered by the state.

To ready itself for the upcoming requests for funding, Ewing asked for and received permission to pay engineers from Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates extra money to cover overtime costs to prepare specifications for work.

The company was already working under a contract to do the work under a multi-year plan to eliminate combined sewers that release stormwater and waste during periods of very heavy rainfall. The project includes separating sanitary waste and stormwater in some areas and diverting combined flows to the wastewater treatment plant. Planned work there will boost the plant's capacity to treat heavy flows.

Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates has been working on the first phase of the project covering Blum and Mozart streets, but plant improvements were in a second phase.

"For this to happen BLA will literally have to begin work tomorrow with their structural engineers, designers and electricians," Ewing said.

The extra charge to the city will be $110,340. However, being able to tap zero or very-low interest rates would save the city several times that amount over the expected 20-year payback. Savings could exceed $3 million if the city is charged no interest.

"It's a no-brainer," city wastewater superintendent Bruce Badger said.

Tell City and many other Hoosier communities are waiting for details on how federal money designed to stimulate the economy will be funneled to cities and towns to help pay for utility, street and other infrastructure projects.

Appointments

The city council appointed Keith Gebhard to fill a vacancy on the Tell City Electric Department's board of directors. Gebhard will serve the balance of Tim Harding's term. Kip Krizman was named by Ewing to the city's parks and recreation board. He fills the seat vacated by Mickey McMahon.

Stormwater Committee

Ewing appointed herself and four others to a committee to examine recommendations for stormwater rates based on a study by the firm Bonar. Residents have been paying a flat monthly rate but the study will likely recommend setting rates on the amount of water runoff. Badger, Street Commissioner Jeff Everly, utilities office manager Janet Damin and Councilman and Works Board member John Little will serve with Ewing and will make a presentation to the city council.

The board of public works and safety and council will meet Monday evening at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.