Missoula County commissioners this week directed $15,000 in grants to extend a pilot program to help qualified households cover the cost of water and wastewater connection repairs.
The funding is provided through the Community Development Block Grant and extends a pilot program offering a 1-percent simple interest deferred payment loan to eligible property owners in all districts managed by the county.
“When families face an unexpected emergency like the need to fix a water or sewer line, those expenses are seldom planned for, yet they need to be addressed immediately,” Commissioner Jean Curtiss said. “Extending this program just makes sense.”
The program was developed after a resident in the Lolo district approached the county regarding repairs that needed to be done to their water service connection. The resident was concerned about the cost of the repairs and asked if the district could help.
Because the repairs involved a private connection, the district was unable to assist by providing alternative funding. However, Curtiss said, the county’s grants administrator proposed amending the grant program to include all affected homeowners within all county operated wastewater districts.
“The need came from homeowners who sought financial help to pay for repairing the private connection to water lines,” said Jean Harte, the county’s grants administrator. “County commissioners passed an amendment to the CDBG plan.”
Homeowners can now contact their water and wastewater operations manager to file an application to determine if they’re eligible for CDBG funding.
Curtiss said homeowners must find and obtain bid proposals from contractors. The contractor with the lowest responsible bid is selected to complete the repair work, and the homeowner enters into a loan agreement with the county for the amount of the bid.
Repayment on the 1-percent loan is deferred until the home is sold or transferred, Curtiss said. Once connection repair work is completed, the county pays the contractor directly.
“I appreciate the staff in our Grants and Community Programs and Public Works departments who came up with this creative way to help families out in an emergency,” Curtiss said.