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Just over $1 million in infrastructure spending headed toward Lincoln County

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | May 4, 2021 7:00 AM

Just over $1 million in state infrastructure funding is set to flow into the coffers of south Lincoln County organizations and local governments. The funds would come from a set of nine bills in the final stages of consideration in Helena.

Together, these bills would allocate $100 millions to projects ranging from museum renovations to wastewater system improvements across the state.

Speaking before the Senate on April 20, state Sen. Ellie Boldman (D-Missoula) said the legislative packet, which originated in the House, garnered strong support from both sides of the aisle.

“I think so much of the public just hears a lot of what may be interpreted as partisanship in the Montanan capital,” she said. “When it comes to our state infrastructure and the next few bills you’re going to hear today, it’s such a wonderful and bipartisan collective effort.”

State Sen. Mike Cuffe (R-Eureka), who serves as the vice chair of the joint Long-Range Planning and Appropriations Subcommittee, carried each of the bills on the Senate floor that day. In a followup interview, Cuffe said the process was draining but rewarding.

“They’re all moving forward,” he said of the bills. “It’s a very positive feeling."

Libby City Hall stands to receive two grants for its wastewater system, one for $125,000 through House Bill 6 and the second for $464,000 through House Bill 11. When Cuffe carried the bills on April 20, he said House Bill 6 contained $6.6 million in grants while House Bill 11 featured $19 million in appropriations. The former piece of legislation aims to help local governments finance infrastructure while the latter draws from the Treasure State Endowment Program to back bridge, water and wastewater projects.

Both House Bill 6 and 11 passed a third reading in the House on April 27.

To bolster historical preservation infrastructure across the state, legislators created House Bill 12. The bill includes $5.5 million for preservation work in more rural parts of the state.

The Libby Heritage Museum stands to receive a $229,690 grant from the legislation. The Friends of Historic Hotel Libby would secure $179,250 and the Troy Museum and Visitors’ Center stands to gain $4,904 from the passage of the bill.

House Bill 12 passed its third reading in the House with amendments from the Senate on April 27.

The Libby National Guard Readiness Center stands to receive a total of $152,500 for a loading ramp extension under House Bill 5. Cuffe told fellow senators this major repair and capital development bill contained $274.2 million in appropriations and spending authorities. The bill passed a third reading in the House on April 29.

The remaining bills in the legislative packet include House Bill 7, a bill that would allocate grants through the state Department of Natural Resources for reclamation and development projects. Through House Bill 8, legislators would provide funding for renewable resource projects. House Bill 9 would appropriate funds for a cultural and aesthetic grants program. House Bill 10 would tackle large IT project funding. House Bill 14 would provide appropriations to state and local government infrastructure projects.