Million-dollar windfall to help out SL dredging

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Storm Lake City Council approved a motion Monday to allow City Administrator Patti Moore to sign an agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that is expected to bring a one-time grant of a million dollars to assist Storm Lake dredging.

According to Moore, the Natural Resources Commission decided to appoint the funds to the City of Storm Lake.

"The money can be spent on the dredge, equipment or even go towards a new spoil site," Moore said.

Traditionally the funds have gone to the Lake Improvement Commission, but in this case, it goes straight to city government to use on the project as it sees fit.

According to Moore, commission members were not fully aware of just how much help the funds will be - they did not know that the project had suffered the loss of expected funding in action to eliminate existing earmarks.

"This is welcomed news, with the loss," Moore said.

The funds are expected to be paid in full "up front," she said, there is no stipulation to wait until the next fiscal year, and no local matching funds are required.

The funds were set aside by the state legislature to boost water quality efforts in Iowa, and it was left to the Natural Resources Commission to decide where the funds were to be distributed.

When the DNR's new director was in town in June, locals were already anticipating receiving the grant, and were somewhat surprised when it was not announced at that time.

But DNR officials, who initiated the dredging which later was continued as an ongoing local effort, were well aware that costs were rising as the locals had to obtain a booster pump to allow them to dredge further out in the lake, and that an additional spoil site would have to be obtained as hopes are to continue the work for about another decade.

With the agreement now firm, the city council wishes to thank the state leaders for their support.

"Shouldn't we do something more then just a standard thank you letter?" Council member Denny Vaudt said. "I just think this deserves a little more then a mailed note."

Mayor Jon Kruse agreed, and offerer to hand deliver a statement of thanks from the community to DNR Director Richard Leopold.

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