MOUNT VERNON — A portion of the funding for the EPA-required hamlet wastewater project is in jeopardy, thanks to a bottleneck of “stimulus” paperwork at the Ohio EPA, Knox County commissioners learned Monday afternoon.
“This isn’t right to be in this situation,” Commissioner Teresa Bemiller said.
The project to install small wastewater treatment plants at several hamlets throughout the county has been under development for the last four years, and has been going through the funding pipeline in recent months. The last few months have also seen the county’s paperwork moved to the bottom of the stack, thanks to the massive influx of paperwork from stimulus projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. ARRA was passed to stimulate the national economy out of a severe recession, but now, the commissioners said, attention to those projects is threatening to derail regular government business.
In a meeting with Jeff Carr of ADR & Associates, the Newark-based engineering firm that designed the project, the commissioners called Ohio EPA staff member Wen-Tong Lin. Lin confirmed that ARRA projects are being given priority and that the soonest he might have a chance to review Knox County’s application is after Nov. 19, when the next batch of ARRA projects are given funding approvals.
If the OEPA does not issue a Permit To Install in time for the Community Development Block Grant program to earmark funding of $100,000 by Dec. 31, the county won’t be able to use that funding source. In that scenario, the commissioners said, the county could either try to hurriedly compose a new application to use that $100,000 elsewhere in the county, or run the risk of losing the money completely if the PTI doesn’t come through before CDBG funds are depleted. Even if the $100,000 can be used elsewhere, that will leave the hamlet project that much short.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger said he hopes the county will be able to keep its funding sources, because it was going to defer a stimulus-funding loan program to the city of Mount Vernon.
Carr also discussed a number of easement issues for the hamlet projects in Millwood and Bladensburg. The commissioners will visit the sites on Monday, Nov. 16, to meet with property owners and inspect the problem spots.
Carr said there is also a problem with easements residents have already verbally approved.
“A lot [of residents] have said OK to the easements, but have not notarized and returned their papers,” Carr said.