Proposed legislation in Olympia could derail Toledo’s ambition to build a new wastewater treatment plant, according to reports during the Feb. 4 Toledo City Council meeting.
City Clerk Michelle Whitten said she had learned of a bill seeking to take monies from the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) and add them to the state’s general fund, eliminating the option for municipalities to take out loans from the fund for public infrastructure.
“If they take that away, that would pretty much kill our development of the new wastewater treatment plant,” said Whitten, stating Toledo’s current plans for the plant depend on a $9.1 million PWTF loan approved in 2011.
Whitten said borrowers draw from the fund as project-specific bills need to be paid and only around $1 million has been used by Toledo so far, meaning a decision by lawmakers to dissolve the fund would eliminate access to the remaining $8.2 million in loans.
Whitten said she does not see the reasoning behind dissolving the fund, stating interest paid on the loans produces income for the state, and said residents are encouraged to contact their local legislators and encourage them to keep the PWTF.
“Let them know that Public Works Trust Fund is very impotent to us and other entities,” said Whitten.
In the mean time, Whitten reported Toledo has applied for a Community Development Block Grant to contribute to plant construction, an effort which may fall short should the PWTF be abolished.
Other grant funding is being put to use in the city as a design contract from Gray and Osborne of $21,750 was approved by the council to begin sidewalks improvements along 5th St. between Cowlitz St. and Augustus St.
The money will come from a $188,500 Transportation Improvement Board grant awarded to Toledo last month and Public Works Superintendent Craig McCown said the project will improve pedestrian access in the area similar to improvements made to August St. last year.
“It’s virtually the same thing as the Augustus St. project, just a different location,” said McCown.
Whitten noted the design had not been put out for bids because Gray and Osborne is on the city’s small works roster, allowing them to be contracted for simple projects.
Toledo High School may also see infrastructure improvements, as council members approved the pay rate for a potential restroom facility to be installed near the football field.
The school currently has no restrooms outside of its main building and has had to pay for port-a-potties during football and soccer seasons, a cost estimated by McCown to be $240 per month. He proposed, should the school build a permanent facility, they be charged the standard rate of $87.50 per month (equivalent to one residential unit) in addition to the normal hookup fee of $6,500.
Toledo School District Board Member Dale Koth said the board is not so concerned at this point with how much installation of the facilities will cost as much as making sure they have city and county approval to move forward with the project.
“What I need to do is get the approval, then we’re going to see if we can get the money,” said Koth, stating previous efforts to install similar facilities resulted in funds raised from the community and a no-go from Lewis County.
School Board members are expected to speak about the issue during their Feb. 14 meeting and have even gone as far in previous meetings to discuss incorporating the property where the restrooms would go into Toledo to avoid potential setbacks from the county.The next city council meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The date was changed due to the observance of Presidents Day Feb. 18. Those with questions or in need of accommodations may call (360) 864-4564.