Funds available to repair sewer systems
Pine County receives grant to assist low-income households
At last week’s regular county board meeting, Land and Zoning Administrator Kurt Schneider told the board about a $20,000 grant the county had received from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). This is the first year the Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) grant has been available. About half the counties in Minnesota have applied for it.
The SSTS grant would help low income homeowners repair non-compliant sewer systems. Schneider told the Hinckley News after the meeting that inspections of SST Systems usually originate because of a complaint or as property changes hands.
Board Chairman Steve Chaffee asked what happened before when there was a non-compliant system.
Schneider said, the county was responsible for enforcement and once the homeowner was informed of the issue, they had 10 months to repair their system.
Schneider told the board two of the main requirements for grant eligibility are the system had to be deemed an imminent health danger and the recipient had to meet the low income guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Land and Zoning will be working closely with Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, Inc. (PCAC). Lakes and Pines will be responsible for grant administration which involves application development, applicant screening and proposal review and coordination. For administering the funds, PCAC will receive 10 percent of the awarded money. Pine County would be in charge of the grant agreement and terms.
Funds from the grant will be distributed on a sliding scale. According to the grant application, those with the designation of very low income would receive funds which would be secured by a 10-year forgivable loan against the property.
The next level, low income, could be granted up to 50 percent of the improvement cost, also with a forgivable loan. A homeowner with a moderate income could receive up to 25 percent of the improvement cost on the same 10-year loan basis.
A forgivable loan means the homeowner must stay in the home for 10 years, after which the loan will not require repayment. If they were to sell the property, the loan would have to be repaid.
This money comes with no strings attached, Schneider said. It may not be a lot of money, but with the sliding scale, it is possible the grant would help more than just a couple of homeowners.
Pine County and Lakes and Pines have other program funding which can be used in conjunction with grant funds. Homeowners who qualify for these programs will be given priority.
A motion to accept the grant funds was approved unanimously.