City Receives Nearly $2 Mill in Grant Funding for Wastewater Plant Project

By Jeremy Coumbes on April 25, 2023 at 11:47am

Just two weeks after announcing Phase 1 of the Jacksonville Wastewater Treatment Plant work was getting bumped up the schedule, the city is now getting a boost in funding.

Mayor Andy Ezard announced during the City Council meeting last night that the city has been awarded a federal grant to help offset the costs of phase 1 of the wastewater treatment plant project.

On April 10th, the City Council unanimously approved the advertisement for bids on phase 1 after the EPA approached the city to see if the project, then slated to start next year, was shovel-ready now.

Ezard says he’s happy the city was ready when the opportunity came about, which has now led to available grant funding. “I applaud the efforts of the council being progressive on this, and the utility department and Benton & Associates to have us ready. Because there was a community out there that wasn’t ready and the money was put back into the pot.

So we were approached by the EPA to see if we wanted to start the project a year earlier, and since we were ready to do that, a $12.7 million dollar project turns into where all of a sudden we get a grant worth almost two million. It’s 1.905, and knocks down that $12.7.”

The timing also locks in the low-interest loan rate at .93%, which experts say will likely balloon to anywhere from 1.25% to nearly 2% next year. Ezard says the lower interest savings are projected to save the city approximately 150,000 annually amounting to $4 million over the life of the loan.

These are the type of things that help everyone, and it’s not just Jacksonville, it’s the Village of South Jacksonville because they use the sewer plant, and it’s the area. So whenever we can try to keep our utility rates as low as we have, for a community that’s a good thing and everybody benefits.”

Ezard said during the meeting that although the city did need to raise the rates at the start of the year in anticipation of the wastewater treatment plant project, Jacksonville’s rates are still considerably lower than an equivalent town with a brand new water treatment plant.

In other business last night, a number of council members were sworn in, including new member Joe Lockman who replaces the outgoing Mike Bartlet in Ward 3.

Also approved was a resolution to eliminate the Lieutenant of Investigations Union Position and the creation of an appointed Commander of Investigations position within the Police Department.

A pair of TIF grant requests were also approved. A grant of $75,000 was awarded to Rick Rolson for the $148,000 renovation project at 622 North Main Street, and $100,000 in funds were approved for Jennifer Charlesworth for an estimated $342,000 renovation project at 52 North Central Park Plaza.