Over 20 projects receive funding from State Bonding Bill

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(ABC 6 News) – The 2023 Minnesota Legislative session has come to an end. Now, the work begins to put laws into place that had been passed in the last four months.

One piece of legislation that passed in the final hours on Monday night was the state bonding bill. The bill will be investing over $800 million into 190 infrastructure projects across the state, with around 20 of those projects in Southeast Minnesota.

In Austin, the city’s wastewater treatment plant is due for upgrades. The facility is old, out-of-date, and simply not big enough for the growing population. Now, thanks to the passing of the bonding bill, the city will be getting approximately $14.5 million to make the necessary changes.

“We were planning for a $42 million PFA loan,” said Steven Lang, the city engineer of Austin. “This $14.5 million will help bring that down so now we’ll be in the range of about $28 million through the PFA loan. The payback and interest of the loan, all of that has decreased with this grant and it’ll reduce the interest rates for the people of Austin.”

The money from the bonding bill will also help the city works department to get started on the project sooner.

“We’ve already started on a few of the minor things getting things for the project and this will allow us now to dive in and go full force,” said Lang.

Austin’s wastewater is just one of the 20-plus projects receiving funding from the bonding bill. In Kasson, water is also the issue, but the root cause is much different; flood water.

“We’re excited about this because we think it’s going to be a more permanent solution for folks here in Kasson,” said Tim Ibisch, Kasson City Administrator.

Back in 2019, the city saw an extensive amount of flood waters causing pipes to back up and bringing sewage into people’s basements. This led the city and state officials to lobby the state for the last four years to get some funding.

“It’s going to help prevent those backups from happening in their homes and it’s going to give them the peace of mind and the confidence to make repairs in their homes and things like that as well,” Ibisch said.

Kasson received $5 million for this project, which will match the $5 million the city has already put toward improvements to the irrigation of Masten Creek in town. This too, will help in tax relief for the residents of Kasson putting less burden on their wallets.

“I live in town and even though I am not directly impacted by the flood waters, I am paying to help and try to get these problems solved. So by helping get some of the money from outside the community, it’s helping us to make it a bigger project than we could by ourselves,” said Ibisch.

Both projects will soon be underway once funding from the bonding bill arrives. The replacement of the wastewater treatment plant in Austin will be a three-year project. Once it’s complete it will help the people throughout the city with drinking water purity, recreational water use, and much more.