LaFayette council receives CBDG application update

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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During its final meeting for the month of July, the LaFayette City Council heard an update from L. P. Campbell Company’s Louise Campbell, who is the city’s grant writer, on the Community Development Block Grant.

The grant, which can be up to $450,000, would be used to improve the city’s water treatment plant, which would improve the overall quality of the city’s water, something that has been a problem for more than a decade.

“We are trying again to get the water treatment plant improvements,” Campbell said. “I learned a lot to better the grant application itself, other than raising the rates, which is also very important. We’re not the worst, but we lose points every time.”

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The application that Campbell is submitting to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs estimates the total project’s cost to be $510,000. The city would be responsible for the remaining $60,000 of the project if the full grant is awarded to LaFayette.

The city would also have to pay for the engineering and administration for the project, which is estimated to cost $85,000 ($67,000 for engineering and $18,000 for administrative fees).

“We do not need to put that in our budget. We just need to put the construction costs,” Campbell said. “We will prepare a letter of additional commitment that the mayor will sign. The reason for doing it not in the budget is it will just be additional money coming out of your pocket anyway.”

Campbell said in the past LaFayette has lost points for its water rates, as the water plant lost more than $100,000 in 2020.

“They have a schedule on how they rate water systems, and y’all are at the end of it,” Campbell said. “You are not paying your part is basically what they think. I was shocked when you got funded in the previous year.”

While some on the council have talked about potentially raising the water rates, some are more hesitant. Council Toney B. Thomas talked about how the city needs to get some of its problems in order first, including the city’s high leak rate.

“We have some cleanup on our side that we have to do too,” Thomas said. “What I’m saying is if we’re even going to think about increasing the water rate, we need to get our stuff together on our end.”

Campbell said to get the type of grants that the city needs to help do projects, like improving the water treatment plant, the city will most likely have to increase water rates at some point.

“I know that you said our water rates are low, but I don’t think it would be fair for us to ask the customers for an increase with the dirty water that we are putting out there,” councilmember Tammie B. Williams said. “I don’t even think a plan in place would be good, I think that we need to see it. The customers need to see the consistency of clean water, and we’ve never had that.”

The deadline for submitting the application is Aug. 16.