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Council to take funding requests

| October 29, 2004 12:00 AM

The Libby City Council on Monday will be considering requests for grants from the city¹s economic development fund adding up to more than is left in the account.

Requests include a $250,000 proposal from the Center for Asbestos-Related Disease, $800,000-plus from the Lincoln County Port Authority, $15,000 from the Libby aquatic center committee and $145,000 from the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce.

Around $800,000 remains in the account and unallocated.

The council will be hearing the proposals directly following an Oct. 25 vote to discontinue using the Libby Area Development Co. to review proposals and submit recommendations. The LADC was established to advise the city following the receipt of an $8 million federal economic development grant in the fall of 2000.

The CARD proposal, which would help fund the establishment of an asbestos research center in Libby, was rejected by a 3-2 vote of the LADC in September. The LADC had directed the CARD to revamp its proposal from a grant to a loan, but the CARD stuck to the loan request after the LADC approved a $300,000 grant for Turner Mountain improvements. A revised proposal from the CARD, which included an annual $5,000 scholarship as a form of payback, was never formally considered by the LADC.

The city council voted on Oct. 25 to consider the CARD proposal directly. Because CARD representatives then presented the proposal to the council, a decision could ³conceivably² be made at Monday¹s meeting, Mayor Tony Berget said.

The other proposals will be presented to the council for the first time on Monday and no vote will be taken, Berget said.

The aquatic center proposal, which would fund a design study to allow the committee to place the question of whether or not to fund construction on a spring ballot, had previously passed the LADC at a formal meeting and was already scheduled to be presented to the council on Monday.

The other two proposals had been informally discussed by the LADC and were scheduled for a formal meeting on Wednesday.

The port authority proposal seeks the approximately $800,000 remaining in the account and unallocated along with around $3 million due to return to the account through loan payments and certificates of deposit used to secure loans. The funds would be used for development at the former Stimson mill site, which was handed over to the port authority at the end of 2003.

The chamber is seeking $145,000 for a variety of improvements at its visitor center. The proposal includes $50,000 for a reader board designed to match the ³Kootenai River Country² gateway signs being planned for highway entrances to the county, $41,000 to pave the parking lot, $16,000 for office equipment, $25,000 for advertising and $13,000 for a contingency fund.