Madison rejects Lewis & Clark capital call
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
The city commissioners signaled a "thumbs down" on Monday to a capital call proposal from officials with the Lewis & Clark water pipeline project, but they also left the way open for future proposals to fund the Missouri River water project.|
The Madison City Commission voted 4-0 against a current $16-million capital call that was proposed to fund continued construction of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System.
Madison's share of the capital call was calculated at $470,500.
LCRWS officials wanted to add the $16 million to a proposed $3.2 million in federal money that the water pipeline project is expected to receive for fiscal year 2014. The federal funding for FY2014 is woefully inadequate to continue construction of the pipeline's next stage from the South Dakota border to Luverne, Minn.
Mayor Roy Lindsay said Monday's 4-0 no vote (Commissioner Dick Ericsson was absent from the meeting) was only a signal concerning the current capital call proposal.
"The door is wide open for future discussion and a different decision in a future vote," Lindsay said. "This particular capital call could be modified and changed for a different result."
According to Lindsay, Madison's commissioners wanted to take a "wait and see" position on the water pipeline with the idea that funding attitudes might change in the U.S. Congress after the 2014 elections. The current Congress has upheld a ban on congressional earmarks during the last several years, which has derailed obtaining meaningful funding amounts for pipeline construction since FY2011.
"It centers around whether we want to commit money now or wait for the next congressional election," Lindsay said. "Right now, our water needs are not real critical, but for other (LCRWS) members like Luverne, Sheldon and the town of Hull in Iowa...they have more critical needs."
Each of the 20 communities belonging to the LCRWS have one vote in accepting or rejecting the current capital call.
Chad Comes, Madison's city engineer, serves as an at-large member on the water pipeline's executive board, and he will take Monday's vote to a meeting of Lewis & Clark officials on Thursday. The city commissioners specified yesterday that they were voting no only on the capital call proposal that was currently on the table.
Supporters of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System made a proposal to the city commissioners in September about conducting a capital call in 2014. The capital call would raise money from among the system's members to pay for the next segment of pipeline which would connect Luverne.
Madison is the second-to-last customer that construction workers will connect to the pipeline. All of the state and local entities involved with the construction of the pipeline have donated their full shares of the construction funding. At the start of the project, the federal government promised to provide 80 percent of the construction costs, and the project currently depends on federal funding to complete the work.
Construction of the LCRWS pipeline has been stymied during the last several years due to inadequate federal funding. For the last three fiscal years, federal funding has dropped to amounts ranging from $2 million to $5.4 million. Those amounts that were appropriated by the Obama administration are far less than the funding needed to continue to build the pipeline to its remaining customers.
LCRWS supporters have criticized federal officials, saying that they have placed the construction project on a "path to infinity" since recent federal funding won't even keep pace with annual inflation rates.
At an annual federal funding level of $10 million, LCRWS officials estimate it will take until 2049 to complete the pipeline's construction.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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