With the Clancy Water and Sewer District (CWSD) board vacant after the May 22 resignation of sole member and board president David Leitheiser, it falls to the County Commissioners to appoint a new board.
At a meeting on May 25, previously scheduled as a CWSD meeting, County Commissioner Cory Kirsch announced that invitations to apply for the board would be sent to every person in the district on May 26. Montana statute requires that the county name new members when none remain.
The deadline to apply is tight, June 7, allowing the Commission to appoint board members at its meeting the following day. “If we get more than five [applications] we’ll have to filter through them and try to get a good board here to move on,” Kirsch said. The appointments would be valid for the remainder of the former members’ terms, between one and three years.
“Normally we’d take a little more time to do it,” Kirsch admitted at the meeting. The hurried timeline, he said, is dictated by looming deadlines for theAmerican Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
APRA, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, is a $1.9 trillion federal bill that includes funding for infrastructure projects, including water and sewer. In a document prepared by Great West Engineering, three ARPA funding opportunities were identified: Treasury Funds Local and Fiscal Recovery Funds, State of Montana Minimum Allocation Grant, and State of Montana Competitive Grant Program.
Grant funds could go toward a long-debated centralized well project that would rectify the high levels of nitrates and uranium found in some Clancy wells. The project’s high cost, estimated at $3 million, has been one barrier to its implementation.
“Without a board, we are kind of stuck,” Kirsch said. The county itself cannot apply for the grant funds on behalf of the district, he said, so a new board would have to get started on the applications immediately to meet the July 15 deadline for ARPA grants available through the state.
“If we can use the grants we have right now for the water and match it with the ARPA funds from the state maybe we’ll get the water project for little or nothing,” Kirsch told the small crowd assembled for the meeting. There is also the possibility of receiving funding for a sewer system, he said, noting that it would be harder to get the grant without matching funds.
CWSD has a valid Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) that can be used for grant applications, according to County Sanitarian Megan Bullock, who was relaying information from Collette Anderson, PE, the project engineer and architect from Great West Engineering.
“It’s a shovel-ready project,” said Bullock. “It would be a shame to not take this opportunity. It’s like we have a sugar daddy and we’re going to miss it.”
“This is probably the most important thing we’ve got going on right now,” said Kirsch. “This may be an avenue that allows us to get the project done almost cost-free.”