Every year the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) identifies a proposed fundable range for State Revolving Fund projects; holds a public meeting, and then announces via a press release what the fundable range will be for the coming fiscal year. This week, the DNRE held the public hearing and set the proposed fundable range at $150 million—a roughly 25 percent decline from the previous year.
In July, MITA began negotiating with the Granholm Administration on increasing the amount of money the state was spending on the State Revolving Fund to finance municipal sewer projects (MITA Seizes Opportunity for Sewer Investment). Negotiations have continued into this month, and it appears that agreement has been reached to increase the SRF projects to $210 million next year and at least $259 million in the following year. In exchange, MITA will support using $150 million of Clean Water Bond money from the 2002 ballot proposal for the state Brownfield program over the next three years.
According to Senate Bill 1442, the state would make a good faith effort to fund all eligible projects beginning in FY 2012 (currently at roughly $350 million), with a minimum floor of $259 million in projects. In addition, Senate Bill 1443 would inject $40 million in new S-2 grants to help pay up-front engineering costs as a way to encourage more communities to undertake these projects. The legislation would also create a statewide task force that will review the long-term viability of sewer funding and will investigate ways to encourage communities to upgrade their water and sewer system to meet existing needs.
The bills are currently pending on the state Senate floor, with action possibly taking place next week. It is not clear whether the legislation has the necessary support to pass the Senate. Companion bills have been introduced in the House and could be debated in committee as early as next week as well.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Mike Nystrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Keith Ledbetter at email@example.com call the MITA office at 517-347-8336.