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Toledo still crossing fingers for sewer grant

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Despite reports to the contrary, Toledo is still waiting to hear the final word on a $5 million Department of Ecology grant for construction of a new sewer plant.

During the March 4 Toledo City Council meeting, Mayor Jerry Pratt said the city may have been shortlisted to receive the funds but the proposal still needs approval from the State Legislature, which is currently considering the elimination of monies from funds for infrastructure improvement.

"They still have to pass it on and it still has to be signed, so it could still die before it gets there," said Pratt, stating he was pleased Toledo at least made it on the list to be considered.

If awarded, the grant would spell the best-case scenario for the city, as opposed to depending heavily on a Public Works Trust Fund Loan of $9.1 million awarded in 2011. If Toledo used all of the available loan, paid back at 0.25 percent interest over 25 years, officials estimated it would increase sewer rates by $132 monthly. With a grant covering more than half of the anticipated $9.6 million upgrade project, that number would be closer to $50 per month, $25 of which has already been added through yearly increases since 2011.

Toledo is also still in the running for a Community Development Block Grant of up to $1 million, and City Clerk Michelle Whitten said they will find out their ranking within the next month.

The Community Development grant, like the Ecology grant, would need to be passed by the legislature, and Whitten encouraged council members, as well as residents, to petition their representatives and senators.

"If you guys want to make any phone calls to anybody, feel free," she said. "Or write letters saying, ‘We need this money.’"

If awarded the grants, Whitten said bids for construction could go out as soon as July with construction beginning in August.

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