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Dwindling fund focal point for discussion

| August 18, 2004 12:00 AM

By Brent Shrum, Western News Reporter

With current and proposed funding requests exceeding available funds by $1 million, Libby City Council and Libby Area Development Co. board members are taking a close look at what¹s left of the city¹s $8 million federal economic development grant.

The council and LADC met Aug. 11 to discuss the fund, which currently has about $1.3 million available if the roughly $1.5 million set aside for the Cabinet View Country Club golf course expansion project is taken into account.

Last month the city approved a portion of the LADC¹s recommendation in favor of the country club loan but made available only the $166,000 needed for engineering studies. The remainder was set aside for one year and will be made available once the project is proven viable, either through a plan for extension of sewer service to the area or through studies showing that individual or community septic systems are feasible.

Including the money set aside for the golf course project, more than $7.5 million has been used for projects since the grant was awarded in the fall of 2000.

Pending proposals for funding total more than $2.3 million and include $417,000 for Turner Mountain, $250,000 for the Center for Asbestos-Related Disease, $400,000 for a tennis court project, $800,000 for the Lincoln County Port Authority, $450,000 for the Kootenai River Development Council over three years, and $20,000 for a swimming pool project.

About $4 million is due to be returned to the fund over a 15-year period, said KRDC director and LADC adviser Paul Rumelhart. Much of that is in the form of certificates of deposit taken out as loan guarantees, but Kootenai Paving is scheduled to make payments on a $320,000 loan over a seven-year period and the city is making payments on a $1 million loan it took out to pay off water and sewer bonds. The first installment, around $65,000, has been included in this year¹s budget, Mayor Tony Berget said. He suggested setting aside the money the city pays back on the loan to be used for other water and sewer infrastructure projects as needed.

LADC and council members were in agreement on the need to stay in contact and keep a close eye on the status of the fund as the balance is drawn down.

³Unless we¹ve got figures that are good and solid, we¹re shooting from the hip,² said LADC member Earl Messick.