Austin to receive over $7 million for WWTP in bonding bill

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Last week, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bonding bill for the first time in two years.

Communities throughout Minnesota rely on bonding bills to help fund infrastructure projects, and Austin is no exception.

“It was nice to see them finally come to a conclusion on the bonding bill,” said City Administrator Craig Clark. “This is our largest capital asset for the city.”

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As part of the bonding bill, Austin was awarded $7.45 million to go toward upgrading the waste water treatment plant to meet standards set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The project carries an estimated $78 million price tag.

“We asked for $19 million, but in a very competitive process, requests far exceeded their ability to fund them all,” Clark said. “To come out with $7.45 million is definitely a great thing for the Austin community.”

“We’re still hopeful this plants the seed for the additional funding to come forward as we break the project up into smaller pieces,” he added.

Another source of funding the city has applied for is a Point Source Implementation Grant that offers a maximum of $7 million. Clark said he anticipates the city will be able to qualify for that.

Austin is one of several communities in Greater Minnesota that are in the process of upgrading their waste water treatment facilities.

“To have the legislature come through with the funding commitments for clean water projects is very helpful and we appreciate that they’ve put those resources and dedicated those funds to those priorities,” Clark said. “That’s really important for both Austin and a lot of communities across the state. We’re very thankful that Sen. Sparks and Rep. Poppe made this a priority and fought for its inclusion in the final bill. It’s a lot of hard work and we appreciate their efforts to make it a reality.”

In addition, the bonding bill set aside $17 million for Flood Hazard Mitigation. Austin will receive some of these funds, but it is unclear how much. Clark said those funds will be put towards the levy surrounding the WWTP and matched with the local option sales tax.

“We’re thankful these types of projects are a continued priority for the state and demonstrate a proactive approach to flood mitigation rather than dealing with the damage caused by high water,” he said.