Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/15/1994 09:03 AM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS introduced SB 282 (ELIGIBLE MATCH MONEY WATER/SEWER GRANTS) as the final order of business. SENATOR ZHAROFF explained that SB 282 came about as a result of a meeting with the Department of Environmental Conservation in trying to resolve a water and sewer problem in Yakutat. The community of Yakutat was awarded a grant last year for a water and sewer project. Before the money was transmitted to the community, Yakutat was incorporated as a borough and the borough is lacking the required matching funds because they couldn't use federal dollars for a state match. SB 282 allows a community to use federal funds to provide the local match in the state's matching grant programs for water and sewer projects. Number 460 KEITH KELTON, Director, Division of Facility Construction and Operation, said the statute that is in question was originally enacted in 1972 and has been amended several times. The original portion of that statute tied federal funding to the state match, and it was keyed to a federal program that has been out of existence for a long time. However, they have found that the provision is now costing the state money. Using Yakutat as an example of the problem, Mr. Kelton said Yakutat was awarded a $500,000 grant and they also had $500,000 in federal money from the Public Health Service to build a waste water treatment plant. The way the statute is currently written, since Yakutat had the $500,000 in federal money, the state can only put in $250,000, which leaves $250,000 for the local government to come up with. This is preventing Yakutat from building a treatment system unless they can find another source of funding. Mr. Kelton said because of this provision in statute these small communities have to come up with a local match that they can't afford, so instead of going after the federal dollars that they can't match, they go after the state for 100 percent funding on these projects. DEC supports removing this clause from the statute because they believe it will save the state capital dollars by encouraging the federal participation. Number 511 SENATOR ADAMS asked if there was a priority list of communities that do not have a water system or a sewer system and if they would get first call on the funds. KEITH KELTON responded that this program is primarily the urban counterpart to the Village Safe Water program. Because this program has the matching requirement, it has never been readily utilized by the smaller communities. He also explained that when Yakutat incorporated as a borough, their population went over the 600 level and dropped them out of eligibility for the Village Safe Water program and put them into the matching grants program of a 50/50 match. Number 532 SENATOR LEMAN asked if legislation has been introduced to do additional cleanup to the statute as proposed by the department. KEITH KELTON acknowledged that SB 330 has been introduced and it addresses several other problems in the statute. Number 563 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if this legislation would apply to other areas of the state. KEITH KELTON answered that the bill would apply to all incorporated communities, and any community that has the ability to get federal dollars or state dollars will be treated equally under this legislation. He explained that the department sends out questionnaires to all the urban communities to get their responses of water, waste water and solid waste projects under this particular program. Those projects are then ranked with a criteria system that evaluates public health and environment. Those factors go into a list that generates scores for these projects and the department prepares a priority list which is submitted as a governor's capital project list for urban communities. TAPE 94-13, SIDE B SENATOR LEMAN commented that a pride of ownership encourages people to take care of their facilities and maintain and operate them. If a community has invested some of its own resources into a project, there is a higher likelihood that they will maintain it. He asked if it was possible to get some consistency with these programs. KEITH KELTON responded that his point has been discussed many times. The last time it was actively debated was during the governor's matching grants program where the question was whether the Village Safe Water program could be included in that concept. However, there is a very specific prohibition in the statutes against requiring a match for Village Safe Water projects. The Administration cannot require that match unless the Legislature was to make a change authorizing in-kind service match. He added that it would be real difficult in most places to find much of a contribution other than maybe a gravel source or land for the treatment facility. SENATOR PHILLIPS said it was his intention to hold SB 282 until the following week and take it up in conjunction with SB 330.