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City of Brownton still trying to nail down funding for project

Two years after initiating a comprehensive street and utility project, the city of Brownton is still struggling to nail down the financing.
John Rodeberg of Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH), the city’s engineering consultant, told the City Council Aug. 2 that Rural Development has yet to approve the city’s application for funding.
“We were thinking we’d be doing it (construction) a year ago,” said Rodeberg. “And here we sit, and we still don’t have an agreement with Rural Development.”
The city has applied for low-interest funding and possible grants through the Rural Development program, which is administered through the United States Department of Agriculture.
Rodeberg said part of the problem is that one of Rural Development’s agents wants the engineering cost pared down to about 17 percent of the total cost. Right now, the engineering cost is estimated at about 22 percent, which Rodeberg said is typical.
Rodeberg said he doesn’t feel Brownton’s request is being treated the same as other programs that are funded by Rural Development.
Council Member Doug Block asked what would happen if Rural Development held fast to its request to cut the engineering costs to 17 percent of the total project.
“We’d have to pull out,” said Rodeberg. “We’d end up losing about $200,000.”

For more from the meeting, see the Aug. 10 print edition of The Chronicle.