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City seeks grants for Cabinet Heights sewer

| March 4, 2004 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum, Western News Reporter

After hearing that a petition drive has apparently secured enough signatures for a formal annexation request, the Libby City Council on Monday approved the expenditure of up to $30,000 to begin applying for grants to fund the proposed Cabinet Heights sewer project.

The council recently passed a declaration stating that the city has no intention of annexing the area unless enough grant funding can be obtained to complete the project at no significant expense to property owners. With applications for several grant programs due in May, the council waited to hear an update on the progress of the petition drive before committing to the application process.

Cabinet Heights proponent Wayne Haines told the council that a count of registered voters in the area proposed for annexation resulted in a list of 99 names. State law requires that at least one-third of the registered voters of an area proposed for annexation must sign a petition to put the issue on the ballot for city residents to decide. The law also states that if more than 50 percent of property owners or the owners of 50 percent of the property in the area sign the petition, the request does not have to be put on the ballot but can be approved by a resolution passed by the city council.

According to Haines, as of Monday 40 property owners who are also registered voters had signed the petition. Six home owners who are not registered to vote had signed the petition along with nine registered voters who rent property and one renter who is not registered to vote, Haines said. He added that six or seven additional signatures were expected.

City attorney Scott Spencer said the numbers would seem to be sufficient to make the annexation request. The council authorized Bill Buxton of the engineering firm Morrison Maierle to proceed with a preliminary engineering report and begin the process of applying for grants through the Community Development Block Grant program, the Treasure State Endowment Program and the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Buxton estimated the total cost of the preliminary engineering report and the grant applications at around $30,000.

³Though it might seem like a lot now, it is a good investment to get this thing off the ground,² Buxton told the council.

The preferred — and least expensive — alternative of several possible sewer projects outlined by Buxton at a meeting last month is estimated at around $2.5 million. Extending sewer service to the area will alleviate septic problems some residents have reported and allow for the expansion of the Cabinet View Country Club golf course from nine holes to 18, but the area must be annexed into the city before sewer service can be offered.