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Water and sewer passes bond resolution, approves permits

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PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

BIG SKY – At a May 18 board meeting, the Big Sky County Water and Sewer Board completed several action items. A number of ongoing projects advanced, including the long-awaited Water Resource Recovery Facility expansion. 

A pair of unanimously passed resolutions finalized the financing for the WRRF, and permission was granted to allow project engineer Scott Buecker to execute a notice to proceed following a construction contract award given to the RSCI Group out of Boise. 

The first board resolution authorized the nearly $43 million bond agreement the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District has entered into with First Security Bank. According to the district’s general manager, Ron Edwards, this was a big step since the bank can now move forward with the bond sales. 

“This is monumental for the bank as well as the district,” said Tim Kent, president of First Security’s Big Sky branch, who was in attendance.

The second resolution authorized a loan from the State Revolving Fund, a loan program established by the Montana Legislature for water pollution control projects. While the SRF could not fund the entire project, the district secured a $1.4 million loan from the fund, $350,000 of which is forgivable. Edwards said this loan will be used to recover engineering costs for the WRRF. “We spent a lot of money in design on this plan,” Edwards said in an interview with EBS after the meeting. 

The board also approved the fiscal year 2021-22 budget proposed by the budget subcommittee, notably including costs for the WRRF sewer plant expansion upgrade, as well as three new employees: two new sewer operators for the full year and a new administrative employee budgeted for half the year. 

In addition to the budget, the district held its first reading of the draft rate ordinance. The district is proposing an increase of 5 percent across all rates for water and sewer charges. The second hearing for the rate increase will take place at a special board meeting on June 1, where the board will vote on the ordinance. 

The board also passed an ordinance releasing an additional 300 Single Family Equivalents for connection permits. Permits requesting new SFEs are currently backlogged by more than 25 SFEs, so this ordinance will allow for permits on hold to access SFEs as well as new requests to be fulfilled. 

The ongoing process of incorporating the future workforce housing project, a partnership between the Big Sky Community Housing Trust, in the water and sewer district saw updates during this meeting. The water and sewer board will move forward with writing an ordinance that would annex the property, which includes the former American Bank building, an extent land extending eastward into the district. The board also approved a connection permit for one of the lots that will become Lone Mountain Land Company’s Powderlight Employee Housing. 

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