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Clean Water Fund Advisory Group Finalizes Recommendations, Proposed Rule Changes Advance

by Karen Wiesneski 22. April 2014 05:10

The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources and an advisory group met for the last time on April 15, 2014, to finalize their recommendations for changes to the Wisconsin Clean Water Fund program (WDNR Chapter 162).  The group has met periodically since early February 2014. Substantive changes that have been proposed are listed below.

*   A revised priority scoring system to be incorporated into the Priority Evaluation and Ranking Form (PERF) has been recommended for the revolving loan fund program.

*   While not part of the rule revision process, the DNR is implementing an online Intent to Apply (ITA) submittal process in the fall of 2014 for the 2015 ITA submittals. Once the rules are in effect (spring/summer 2015), the WDNR will begin programming for an on-line self-scoring PERF to accompany the online ITA form.

*   The date for annual ITA and PERF submittals will change when the rules are enacted (anticipated spring 2015) from December 31 to October 31.

*   Options are provided for sanitary districts and sewerage districts by which MHI (median household income) is calculated in determining eligibility for hardship financial assistance or principal forgiveness on a loan. This change is necessary based on the time and cost for obtaining this information for non-standard municipal boundaries.  While the group noted that the new American Community Survey (ACS) methodology can result in a large margin of error, the statutes require that the data be provided by the US Census Bureau.  

Sanitary districts and sewerage districts, because of their unique boundaries, may use one of the following methods for determining their MHI:  1) Requesting a custom tabulation of income data at the census block level from the American Community Survey most recently published with 5-year data after providing the ACS with the census block information for the district; 2) The median household income of the census tract or block numbering area that encompasses the municipality.  If the municipality falls within two or more census tracts or block numbering areas, the median household income shall be weighted by the population of the municipality that resides within each minor civil division; or 3) The median household income of the minor civil division, such as a town, within which the municipality is located.  If the municipality falls within two or more minor civil divisions, the median household income shall be weighted by the population of the municipality that resides within each minor civil division. The applicant will be responsible for collecting this data which will be valid for a one-year period.

*   The total estimated cost of a project to be funded under the small loan program (through the State Trust Fund administered by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands) will be increased from $1 million or less to $2 million or less.

A tentative schedule for finalizing new rules is as follows: two-week economic impact public comment period end of April, early May; rules submitted to the Natural Resources Board at their June board meeting for public hearing authorization; 30-day public comment period in July; and changes made and rules finalized end of August or September 2014.  DNR staff anticipate requesting NRB adoption late fall and then subsequent legislative review in spring 2015.  The effective date of the rule is anticipated to be summer 2015.

If you have any questions about the rule revisions, please contact Robin Schmidt, Chief, Environmental Loans Section, at 608-266-3915 or robin.schmidt@wisconsin.gov.  Updates to the rule will be posted on the DNR web site and in E-Bulletins at http://dnr.wi.gov/Aid/LoanNews.html

If you would like to discuss a specific project need (funding or engineering related) with R.A. Smith National, please contact Chuck Pape at charles.pape@rasmithnational.com. Chuck is a civil engineer with R.A. Smith National and was a voluntary member of the advisory group. He has 30+ years of prior experience with WDNR, serving primarily as their first point of contact for all Clean Water Fund projects in southeastern Wisconsin. Chuck’s experience with the existing funding system at WDNR provided a unique perspective on priority scoring and loan eligibility.

R.A. Smith National will continue to track the progress of these rule changes and communicate updates through this grants newsletter, our online grants directory at www.rasmithnational.com and our Wisconsin Grant Seekers group on LinkedIn.
 

 

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Municipal

Clean Water Fund Advisory Group Discusses Priority Scoring System

by Karen Wiesneski 27. March 2014 10:07

The advisory group discussing rule changes to Wisconsin’s Clean Water Fund program met with the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (WDNR) last week to discuss the program’s priority scoring system.

The WDNR recently completed the scoring of all projects submitted with ITAs (Intent to Apply) and PERFs (Priority Evaluation and Ranking Form) for the current funding cycle. Projects were also scored under proposed ranking methodology for comparative purposes only as part of the rule revision process. (These scores will not be used to rank projects for the current funding cycle.) Scoring results under the existing and proposed methods were compared and modifications made to the proposed system. The advisory group reviewed the proposed methodology and made additional suggestions.

The advisory group and WDNR will hold one final meeting in April. A 30-day public comment period is anticipated in June 2014 with new rules adopted by WDNR before January 2015 in time for legislative review in the spring and rule implementation in summer 2015. WDNR anticipates using the new online submittal process for the 2015 ITA submittals which are due December 31, 2014.

If you have any questions, please contact Robin Schmidt, Chief, Environmental Loans Section, at 608-266-3915 or robin.schmidt@wisconsin.gov.

Click on my blog posts below to catch up on what else the advisory group discussed at each of the two meetings held earlier this year.

Rules to Be Revised, February 4

Deadlines and Eligibility, March 7

Photo at right:  Chuck Pape, civil engineer with R.A. Smith National, is a voluntary member of the advisory group. He has 30+ years of prior experience with WDNR, serving primarily as their first point of contact for all Clean Water Fund projects in southeastern Wisconsin. Chuck’s experience with the existing funding system at WDNR provides a unique perspective on priority scoring and loan eligibility.

 

 

Tags:

Municipal

Clean Water Fund Advisory Group Discusses Deadlines and Eligibility

by Karen Wiesneski 7. March 2014 09:37

The advisory group discussing rule changes to the Clean Water Fund program met with WDNR for the second time last week in Madison. A summary of the key discussion points is included below. Any and all proposed changes noted below will be available for public comment at the conclusion of the draft rule-revision process. All rule revisions are ultimately reviewed and approved by the Natural Resources Board, the Legislature and the Governor.

A consideration is being made to move the December 31 Intent to Apply (ITA) deadline to October 31. The deadline would correspond more closely with the fall municipal budgeting cycle and also allow for the processing of ITAs, priority scoring and loan applications prior to the spring construction season. If approved, the same deadline would be implemented for the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP).

For sanitary districts where there may not be sufficient data points for the American Community Survey (ACS) to calculate an MHI, other criteria will need to be established. The group discussed how there is frustration with the ACS due to their large margin of error often seen in their data. After a discussion of various alternatives, the advisory team members suggested that applicants be given the option to use one of the following methods:  1) the applicant prepares a map identifying the project boundaries for use by the U.S. Census Bureau in calculating MHI; 2) the applicant uses the published MHI for the township; or 3) if the applicant is located in multiple local government entities, a weighted average MHI (based on population) is calculated.

There has been ongoing discussion regarding the potential eligibility of sanitary sewer lining under the CWF program.

Once again, all of the items noted above are proposed changes as of this writing. The group is scheduled to meet again in mid-March to discuss the priority scoring system. Stay tuned for another update! If you have any questions, please contact Robin Schmidt, Chief, Environmental Loans Section, at 608-266-3915 or robin.schmidt@wisconsin.gov.

Photo at right:  Chuck Pape, civil engineer with R.A. Smith National, is a voluntary member of the advisory group. He has 30+ years of prior experience with WDNR, serving primarily as their first point of contact for all Clean Water Fund projects in southeastern Wisconsin. Chuck’s experience with the existing funding system at WDNR provides a unique perspective on priority scoring and loan eligibility.

 

 

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Clean Water Fund Rules to Be Revised

by Karen Wiesneski 4. February 2014 11:05

An external advisory group formed by WDNR met for the first time this week in Madison to discuss rule changes to WDNR Chapter 162 (Clean Water Fund Program*). The group, comprised of representatives from WDNR, USDA Rural Development, Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District and the consulting engineering industry, is meeting monthly from January through April to discuss items that include, but are not limited to, eligible costs, priority scoring system, MHI (median household income), DBE and the application process. (A separate advisory group has been formed to discuss rule changes to WDNR Chapter 166, Safe Drinking Water Loan Program.)

The tentative schedule for the Clean Water Fund rule revisions includes a 30-day public comment period in June 2014; new rules adopted by WDNR before January 2015 in time for legislative review in the spring; and rules implemented in summer 2015.

A significant change to the Clean Water Fund program is the implementation of an online ITA (Intent to Apply) submittal process to be in place by the fall of 2014.  WDNR anticipates using the new online submittal process for the 2015 ITA submittals which are due December 31, 2014.

A new scoring system that is part of the rule revision process will be in effect after the rules are adopted by the Natural Resource Board (NRB) and approved by the legislature and Governor. This is anticipated to occur in 2015. Once the rules are in effect, the WDNR will begin programming for an on-line self-scoring Priority Evaluation and Ranking Form, to accompany the on-line ITA form.

Chuck Pape, civil engineer with R.A. Smith National, is a voluntary member of the advisory group. He has 30+ years of prior experience with WDNR, serving primarily as their first point of contact for all Clean Water Fund projects in southeastern Wisconsin. Chuck’s experience with the existing funding system at WDNR provides a unique perspective on priority scoring and loan eligibility. Stay tuned for future updates.

If you have any questions, please contact Robin Schmidt, Chief, Environmental Loans Section, at 608-266-3915 or robin.schmidt@wisconsin.gov.

*The Clean Water Fund loans money at reduced interest rates for wastewater and stormwater projects. Hardship financial assistance in the form of a reduced interest rate loan or a grant is provided for municipalities with low income and high user costs. 

 

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Municipal

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