In March, the city of Minturn was assured that it would receive $1 million in congressional funds to help build a new water reservoir.
But the city won’t be able to apply for those funds until October, which has city budget officials a bit concerned.
The budget is expected to begin receiving debits for payments on the $2.3 million water reservoir when completed in November.
Minturn Mayor Earle Bidez penned a letter to the senses. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, as well as Rep. Joe Neguse (whose congressional district includes Minturn), to help ease some of the stress. The city council is expected to vote to send the letter on Wednesday.
The letter says the city’s loan repayments are imminent and asks Colorado Democrats for help seeing Minturn’s request to have the money processed quickly by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ready to use
In April, Bennet visited the area where the reservoir will be located. The city was about 10 days away from starting construction at the time after launching a bid in February.
The project’s shovel-ready status helped Bennet and Hickenlooper secure funds through Senate Appropriations 2022, which was finalized in March.
The city expects the water reservoir to be completed “no later than November of this year to comply with the elk wintering habitat requirements of Colorado Parks and Wildlife,” according to the letter.
“After the completion and commissioning of the new water reservoir, the city will begin payments on the State Revolving Fund (“SRF”) loan, in which case no further grant funds may be accepted for offset construction costs,” the letter read. “We expect that to happen at the end of November this year.”
Bennet said the water reservoir was one of 56 projects in Colorado for which he had applied to receive funding through various appropriation bills for fiscal year 2022.
A total of $158 million in funding for Colorado projects was included in Senate appropriations bills for fiscal year 2022.
“Each of them was a worthwhile project, and frankly, the next 50 were worthwhile projects as well,” Bennett said.
With SRF loans requiring that all grants to offset loan principal be received before construction is complete, Minturn will face a tight deadline when the EPA opens its application process in October.
But that’s not the only problem with the funding promised by Minturn. City officials are also concerned that another issue could affect Minturn’s eligibility to receive the funds.
“The EPA has also identified in the summer of 2022 the requirement that projects must include a clause for commercially disadvantaged enterprises,” according to the letter. “This requirement was instituted after Minturn’s project went to competition in February 2022. We are now concerned that the EPA may deny the city funding due to this unforeseen technicality.”
Bidez said he suspects Minturn isn’t the only small town in Colorado dealing with these issues.
“We ask each of you to contact the EPA directly to seek prompt resolution of these two pressing issues,” the letter reads.