By Crystal Thompson
Thirty-four communities will be recommended for the Department of Commerce's Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP) grants, ranging from $167,460 to $500,000.
These grants include drinking water, wastewater, storm drain and bridge projects in 34 Montana cities, towns, counties, water/sewer districts and Indian reservations. Three additional projects have been recommended for grants if there are sufficient funds, as well. The TSEP grants will be recommended for approval in the 2001 Montana Legislature.
The City of Havre will be applying for $500,000 worth of grant money for its' water system, said Jim Edgcomb of the Treasure State Endowment Program in Helena. "Basically Havre's grant money would be used in helping the system on the south part of the city by providing a complete loop for the water line," Edgcomb said. Havre is at the tail end of the guaranteed funds, said Edgcomb, which are to be approved by the Legislature. Havre falls 31st out of 38 applicants.
Peter Blouke, Director of the Montana Department of Commerce, stated in a recent press release that grant requests from the 38 applicants totaled $16.77 million. TSEP will not have adequate funds to cover all the communities requesting grants, he said. "However, the growth in the TSEP fund has allowed us to fund most of the projects that applied for assistance," he said.
The Treasure State Endowment Program was established in 1992 by passage of a referendum by Montana voters. The program uses the interest earned from a permanent trust fund that is continuing to grow from the build up of coal tax revenues. The TSEP grants are matched by local funds and by loans and grants from other state and federal programs.