Knox Opts Out of OCRA Funds for Wastewater Treatment Updates

Knox Wastewater Treatment PlantThe City of Knox is not pursuing a matching grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to pay for wastewater treatment plant upgrades. Mayor Dennis Estok told the city council Tuesday night he made that executive decision prior to last week’s deadline.

“I felt like I was being pushed into a situation I wasn’t comfortable with. I wasn’t comfortable with spending $1.9 million and not knowing all the facts and the different avenues we can take.”

The grant required a $1.9 million match from the city. Funds would be used for extensive upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Much of the infrastructure there is more than 20 years old and no longer works efficiently. Estok says the city is exploring other funding options, including a grant and loan from USDA.

That program would provide up to a 45 percent grant with a fixed 2.4 percent interest rate on the loan. Estok says the city may be able to roll their existing bond into that loan and save additional money. He adds financing through USDA is a much longer and more involved process, but he thinks it’s worth doing.

Estok says the city needs to let the engineers know soon whether they plan to pursue funding from USDA, which he thinks they should do. The rate increases that took effect earlier this year were earmarked for capital improvements. Estok says the city can also opt to pay as they go for improvements. No decision has been made yet as to how to proceed.