City residents asked to reach out to county officials for ARPA funding to help with water treatment system

By John McLoone

PRESCOTT – City of Prescott residents were urged to lobby their Pierce County Board supervisor for a share of American Rescue Plan Act funding to help pay for the city water project that will allow a well that has been shut down for higher-than-normal nitrate levels to be put back into use.

The city’s well number three was taken out of use in September 2021. The city is now using its wells two and four for all water usage.

In April, the council approved contracts with CBS Squared Inc. to complete applications to the state Drinking Water Loan Program and for design and construction administration services for installation of a reverse osmosis nitrate removal treatment plan. Total cost of the project is projected at $1,023,175.50.

The council, at its meeting Monday, May 23, approved resolutions to apply for finan cial assistance from the Wisconsin Environmental Improvement Fund.

In a memo to the city council, Administrator Matt Wolf wrote, “The Reimbursement Resolution states that the city intends to reimburse the Safe Drinking Water funding. Due to the nature of the way the program is financed, the city is required to make some payments in advance of the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program funds being received through the issuance of bonds. As a result, the program requires applicants to complete this resolution to state that financing will be paid out of reserve funds from the city to cover advanced costs before the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program bond funds are received. The current unallocated cash fund balance of the Prescott water fund is at $289,393.”

Wolf said the city is hoping for as much reimbursement as possible from the Environmental Improvement Fund for the project.

“If we were not to get it completely, we’d have a discussion as far as general fund reserves. We’d also have to ask the Public Service Commission or a rate increase. We’d have to have that discussion,” said Wolf.

He said the city will find out the level of loan forgiveness in August. He is hopeful that the city won’t incur debt on the project in the long-term and said that funding allocated to the city from ARPA could pay it ou. The city has also put in a request to Pierce County for a share of its ARPA funding. Pierce County has set up a committee to review ARPA requests.

“We take our ARPA funds, try to match it with Pierce County’s and bridge the gap. Hopefully we won’t even have the loan we have to pay ou long-term," said Wolf.

The city’s ARPA funding totaled $449,551.44, with payments of $224,775.72 in 2021 and 2022.

Alderperson Pat Knox broke down the city scenario.

“Hopefully at least $500,000 of it will be forgiven and roughly $600,000 of it would be a loan. Of that, we talked about if we could get $250,000 from county,” he said.

“There’s been no indication from Pierce County that we’ve been at all moved forward,” said Wolf.

That’s where Prescott residents can help. Knox urged them to contact county ovcials on the matter. Pierce County is still deciding how to allocate the $8.3 million in ARPA funds it received.

“My point would be I would encourage folks to reach out to the folks at the county and explain to them that Prescott represents 10 percent of the county population, and we’re asking for about 2 percent of the ARPA funds they have available,” said Knox. “That seems like a very fair use of those funds to ensure that 10 percent of the people living in the county in Prescott have good water and maybe don’t have to pay an additional fee or taxes on this. If you have the time, politely reach out to the county representatives. I think it’s a good idea if we reach out and let folks know we’d like to see that happen.”

May 31, 2022