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Moyie Springs receives additional funding and takes on debt to cover sewer project

by EMILY BONSANT
Staff Writer | September 14, 2023 1:00 AM

MOYIE SPRINGS — The city of Moyie Springs has received additional funding for its sewer project.

On May 21, 2019, Moyie Springs passed a bond for the sewer project, which allowed the city to take on $3.5 million in debt to fund the project. The bond passed with 68 “yes” votes, 24 “no” votes, totaling 92 votes cast.

As the project has moved forward, construction costs have nearly doubled, with the original estimate of $2,948,000 increasing to $4,240,000. In addition, the final cost of the project increased from $3.5 million to more than double to the most recent estimate of $7,861,000.

The city had planned to start the project earlier, but COVID-19, engineering, shipping delays and lack of supplies have combined to push back the timeline.

Moyie Springs Mayor Steve Economu said many residents in the city are on a fixed income and living on Social Security and could not financially support the project as quotes increased.

The mayor, city council, city clerk and community members have looked into additional funding options instead of passing the additional cost onto local taxpayers.

On Sept. 6, at its regular meeting, the council accepted additional funding from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality by way of American Rescue Plan Act grant and loan increase. Prior to this, Moyie had already received ARPA funding from DEQ; the funding increased the total APRA grant funding from $2,100,000 to $4,584,176 and the total State Revolving Fund loan from $2,621,000 to $2,836,824.

DEQ’s State Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans to qualified recipients to improve their drinking water and wastewater facilities, DEQ officials announced on the official website. SRF construction loans are 20-year, below-market-rate interest loans that typically result in significant cost savings to recipients over the life of the project, said DEQ.

The city is also receiving $1,300,707 and $528,117 in principal forgiveness and funding from Gov. Brad Little’s Building Idaho’s Future program.

The city will have to pay back a $1,008,000 bond in biannual installments over the next 30 years. The council accepted the additional funding from DEQ with a 3-0 vote, Mayor Economu was absent and council president Geoff Hollenbeck sitting in as acting mayor.

The bond will be issued upon project’s completion.

At the Sept. 6 meeting, council members discussed getting more grants in order to not take on additional debt for the project, which will happen by taking on a bond.

John Nelson, Moyie Springs Public Works supervisor, said the city has enough money from grants, bonds, and loan forgiveness to cover the project and that he didn’t think anyone else would give the city additional funding to cover the debt the city is taking on to complete the project.

Davis Sims, Boundary County Economic Development Council director, said there is still contingency money budgeted that might not be used. He said that for every loaned dollar that is not spent the city would get back, at the rate of 30 cents on the dollar.

Like many water districts, the city also approached the Boundary County commissioners in order to help cover the additional costs, by way of ARPA funding.

While they said they would consider it, the commissioners said their ARPA dollars are dwindling as well. In order to be fair between jurisdictions, they would not gift more than $80,000, the same amount that was gifted this year to the city of Bonners Ferry to cover the cost of the city pool.

At this time, the county has not given any ARPA dollars to the city of Moyie Springs, nor have the commissioners voted to give the city money from ARPA funding.