East Palestine sees light at end of funding tunnel

EAST PALESTINE — With a wastewater treatment plant project being mandated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, East Palestine has been looking for options to fund the the construction of the million-gallon equalization basin and other requirements.

Interim Village Manager Traci Spratt said after speaking with Pam Ewing from RCAP about possible funding for the village’s wastewater project, she believes the USDA will help them with the financing for the project. The village is applying for a $7.6 million loan through the USDA, which will be borrowed at a rate of 2.5 percent. Additionally, Spratt believes East Palestine will be able to obtain a $3.4 million grant.

Combined, Spratt believes these amounts may nearly be enough to complete the project or at least get the village close. During this week’s council meeting, Spratt suggested that depending on how much the village receives in grant money they may still need to increase sewer rates a bit.

East Palestine has until next year to comply with the EPA orders and Spratt said the USDA and the EPA are working together with the village to help get the funding.

In the future, Spratt and council are looking at having a study done to determine how many village residents qualify as low or moderate income, making grants easier to get. While it is too late to help with the wastewater treatment plant project, it would help with future projects. The survey would cost about $14,350 to have done.

Councilman Doug Simpson said the study would also help the village obtain lower interest rates for projects as well.

Councilman Brett Todd applauded Spratt and John Jurjavcic, the water and wastewater superintendent, for jumping in and getting the village some help with project funding.

In other matters:

— While Spratt said they are grateful the voters passed the half-percent income tax increase, she reminded council the money will not actually start being collected until about May of next year.

— The next regular meeting of council has been moved due to Memorial Day to 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 28. Council has also called two special meetings to interview candidates executive session for village manager on Thursday afternoon and this morning.