Havre Daily News
Havre is looking to the federal government for a hand in paying a portion of the costs for storm drain improvements associated with the First Street reconstruction project.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice on Monday told City Council members that he is seeking federal highway grant funding to contribute an additional $180,000 to the project, a cost that orginally was Hill County's responsibility.
The Havre City Council on Monday night voted to sign an agreement with the county and the Montana Department of Transportation to move forward with the storm drain project.
The state is picking up the lion's share -about 71 percent - of the $9 million project. The city will use local funding sources to cover 13 percent of the project's cost, and federal urban funds will be used to cover the remaining 16 percent.
Rice offered to have the city pay the additional $180,000, about one-third of the county's share, in order to keep the project afloat after the county said it couldn't come up with the money. The Montana Department of Transportation is covering the other two-thirds of the county's share.
Rice has not previously said where the city planned to get the $180,000. He declined to comment on the federal funding after Monday's City Council meeting, and could not be reached for comment today.
Havre public works director Dave Peterson confirmed today that Rice is searching for grant funding to cover the cost, but said he did not know any other details.
The county initially was asked to pay about $550,000 of the project's total cost. The project cost was to be divided among the city, county and state, based on the origins of runoff that flows beneath First Street. About 7 percent was determined to come from county land.
In October, when MDT, city and county officials met to discuss the county's portion, members of the Hill County Commission said they had no way of assessing property owners for drainage costs.
Officials reached an agreement in which the city, state and county would each pay a third of the county's portion, leaving Hill County with a $180,000 bill.
A week later, county commissioners told MDT they could not come up with the money. The state then agreed to pay two-thirds of the county's share.
The drainage project is part of a $20 million First Street reconstruction project that is set to begin by 2007. The huge project, which will take at least two years to complete, includes new water lines, pavement and sidewalks.