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There has never been more money available to help you turn a water, wastewater or stormwater project idea into a reality.

Water, wastewater, and stormwater are among the most complex and complicated project types a town can undertake.  They require a team of experts to help a community move an idea to a action.  Many smaller towns back away from these projects (mainly water and sewer) for these reasons – they are challenging, hard for a small town with  limited capacity to take on and very expensive.  However, lack of this infrastructure is what is holding many small communities back from creating more housing that is affordable (rental or homeownership), inviting more businesses in, or even having a seated café in a small village center. 

Many local officials ask: why would we want to make such a large investment that only benefits a small part of the town?  The answer: to protect and grow your grand list and provide strength, vibrancy and sustainability to your community.  Why protect and grow your grand list?  Loss to the grand list means higher taxes for all taxpayers.  Growth to the grand list means lower taxes for all taxpayers. 

Lots of towns shy away from these projects because of the financing complexity – it will likely include multiple sources of federal dollars as well as some level of debt. Any town, but especially the smaller ones, want to avoid a bond vote at all costs. The fear of debt can overshadow the fact that a well-designed system can pay for itself through fees generated by the system’s users and the increase in grand list value from added taxpayers.  Existing residents who connect to the new system will see an automatic increase in their home’s value and it will make it easier for them to sell, when the time comes.  Conversely, it will be easier for buyers to get financing since the risk is lower for the bank. Just ask a realtor! There are multiple layers of benefit to the town and its residents - growing your tax base is a win-win.  

What is the best part about undertaking a municipal water and wastewater at this moment?

There has never been more money available to help you and interest rates are only going to increase so….make the choice to explore the idea NOW while it lasts!

FAQs

WHAT FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO MY MUNICIPALITY FOR WATER, WASTEWATER, AND STORMWATER PROJECTS?

Refer to VLCT's Vermont Federal Funding Guidebook.  We have culled the hundreds of new federal funding programs, eliminating those that are inappropriate for or not applicable to Vermont’s municipalities.  Those that remain, we have combined into a single document. For each one, we have reviewed the program details, read the NOFO (Notice of Funding Opportunity) and pulled out the most salient details about the funding source we know at this moment. If you get stuck or feel overwhelmed, don't get discouraged - we can help!  You can book an appointment to self-schedule a video conference with us or send us an email: FFA@vlct.org.  

USER TIP:  To search the Guidebook for your topic of interest, you can use the “shortcut keys” on your computer.  Open the document, hit the “Control” and “F” keys simultaneously and then type the keyword you want to search into the dialogue box that opens in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.  If you type “water” it will show you every time “water” is used in the document.

 

We think our town might be too small to take on a project like this. Are there any other small towns that we can look to as an example?

YES!  The Town of Montgomery, VT (population ~1,200) is underway with an ambitious wastewater and streetscape project in the village center.  Their process is excellent and completely transferrable. To learn more about how Montgomery turned their idea into action, check out their website dedicated to their project HERE.

Are homes on small lots in village centers without suitable wastewater replacement options at risk?

Yes.  This situation restricts future growth and depresses property values which reduces the tax base.  If a homeowner has no suitable alternatives for a failed wastewater (septic) system, then their home becomes unsaleable and its value plummets; this will negatively impact the town's Grand List.  

Do homes on small lots without suitable wastewater replacement options struggle with bank financing?

Yes.  Banks will often not finance homes or commercial enterprises on these types of small lots because it presents a higher level of risk.  Borrowers often do not have the ability to afford replacement systems, should the need arise.  This has greater impact for buyers with limited income, presenting further barriers for them to the goal of homeownership.  Financing for single family homes on a municipal wastewater system is much easier for a buyer (and more lucrative for the seller).  

What is one of the biggest impediments to more affordable housing for seniors and low-moderate income people being created in a community?

Lack of municipal wastewater and water, just ask any developer or construction contractor.

If we wanted to kick the tires on doing a water or wastewater project in our community, where would we even start?

Start with your regional planning commission (RPC). RPCs have intimate knowledge of your town and can help you get started in the right direction.  VLCT works closely with Vermont's eleven RPCs to assist communities in moving locals project from concept to construction. 

RPCs are political subdivisions of the State created by their member municipalities (24 VSA §4341).  RPCs provide technical assistance to municipalities, and since Vermont does not have county governments, RPCs act as a link between municipal affairs and state government. RPCs work in fields that directly and indirectly affect the public at large: land use, transportation, housing, economic development, environmental quality, and more. 

Vermont has eleven (11) RPCs. To find out which one serves your area, click HERE.

What if there is a business interested in locating in my community but they need a municipal system?

Contact your regional development corporation (RDC).  RDCs are satellites of the State of Vermont Department of Economic Development (DED) and serve every region. Each RDC works to deliver technical assistance to develop and strengthen businesses, lead workforce development initiatives, and support employment. The RDCs are the local contact for businesses and entrepreneurs seeking assistance. RDCs either provide services directly or connect businesses to services available through their networks and partnerships with local, state, and federal programs and resources.

Vermont has twelve (12) RDCs.  To find out which one serves your area, click HERE

My town has a stormwater project to do. Where should we start?

Start with your regional planning commission (RPC). RPCs have intimate knowledge of your town and can help you get started in the right direction.  VLCT works closely with Vermont's eleven RPCs to assist communities in moving locals project from concept to construction. 

RPCs are political subdivisions of the State created by their member municipalities (24 VSA §4341).  RPCs provide technical assistance to municipalities, and since Vermont does not have county governments, RPCs act as a link between municipal affairs and state government. RPCs work in fields that directly and indirectly affect the public at large: land use, transportation, housing, economic development, environmental quality, and more. 

Vermont has eleven (11) RPCs. To find out which one serves your area, click HERE.

Need one-on-one help? 

Grab 15 minutes with us for an appointment!  Our "Consults on Call" office hours are Wednesdays, 1:00-2:00 pm and 7:00-8:00 pm.  Simply click the blue "Book An Appointment" button, select the date and time that works best for you and complete the details.  If you think you need more than 15 minutes, please email FFA@vlct.org to schedule a longer time slot.