At its July 8 meeting, the Stevensville Town Council unanimously approved the formal application for a Water and Sewer Infrastructure Grant for $2,542,440 through the American Rescue Plan Act.
At a previous meeting, the Town Council had approved proceeding with a grant application to the State of Montana that would request funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support the Town’s next water system project after reviewing the preliminary engineering report from HDR Engineering that identified water storage and leakage as key issues in the water system. The administration and engineers had recommended that the Town consider this grant as a way of funding the needed improvements.
The grant application would seek $950,000 in competitive grant funds and $327,805 from a minimum allocation grant program. The Town would match that grant with $1 million in water fund reserves, and half of the $529,270 ARPA funds that the Town has received. The total project budget is $2,542,440 and would replace the Town’s 60-year-old water storage tank and replace leaking water mains throughout the community. According to the Mayor, this project will not result in an increase in water rates. He also noted that the recent report on Stevensville’s water system indicated there was enough capacity to serve Stevensville’s water needs until at least 2040.
In other business, Mayor Brandon Dewey asked the council how they would like to handle the unapproved claim for $12,020 which was for the mayor’s legal fees that were originally paid by the Town and then repaid by the mayor. The council never approved that claim which was part of a batch of claims that were paid out of cycle and were never approved. The mayor said there had been inquiries about whether the council was ever going to consider that claim. The mayor asked for direction from the council as to what to do regarding that unapproved claim.
Council member Jaime Devlin said she would like to see all the claims that were paid but never approved during that time period. She said she would like that particular claim to be separated out and dealt with after an investigation into the matter which the council had previously approved. The other two council members agreed with Devlin that they would wait for the results of the investigation before addressing the claim issue.
Mayor Dewey provided the council with a budget update for the end of Fiscal Year 20-21 which ended on June 30th. According to the mayor, the General Fund ended the year $106,272 over budget, but with Covid-19-related funding included, there is actually a surplus. The mayor said that the overall budget was underspent by $764,751. Later in the meeting, Devlin complimented the mayor on the condition of the budget. “I’m proud of the budget results for this year. We made a lot of changes that people questioned but it looks absolutely phenomenal. Thank you for that. Good job.”
The mayor also said the swimming pool had done much better this year, bringing revenues and operating expenses more in line with each other. He said it was due in large part to Parks and Rec Director Bobby Sonsteng’s good management.
Public Works Director Steve Kruse told the council that Stevensville is doing well in the areas of water availability and consumption levels. Kruse said, “We’re in a good spot, the reservoir is staying at good levels.”
The council decided to wait until they have a fourth member before electing a council president. In the meantime, Devlin and new council member Sydney Allen approved Paul Ludington as interim council president. Ludington abstained.
Due to the collision of an airplane with a deer in January, the FAA has made installation of an electronic gate at the airport a number one safety priority. The FAA will fund this project at 100%. However, the project is tied to other professional service fees for improvements at the airport for a total cost of $36,000 which is being paid for by a previous grant. The task order was unanimously approved.
The council unanimously consented to the mayor’s appointment of Wendy Planty as Finance Officer at an annual starting salary of $54,600. She’s expected to start on July 19th.
The council unanimously approved an alcohol use permit for the Class of 2011 reunion at Lewis & Clark Park on July 31st.
In public comment, the council heard an impassioned plea for speed bumps on College Street from Stephanie Mapelli whose mother was hit by a motorist while walking and subsequently died of her injuries. “Don’t wait to approve pedestrian safety until this happens in our town, please,” said Mapelli. She had also sent a letter to the council regarding this issue. Leslie Tadvick thanked Raymond Smith and the Motley family for organizing the 4th of July fireworks show.