JASPER, Tenn. - Marion County will apply for a grant on Jasper's behalf to help with the city's sewer problems.
The Marion County Commission voted unanimously to apply for a state Community Development Block Grant at its January meeting, and the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the application process Monday.
County Mayor John Graham said the money is available to the county, "but we're limited on possible grant applicants."
Chuck Hammonds, director of community development for the Southeast Tennessee Development District, said the state has the grants available every year for local governments to complete projects such as sewer systems.
Municipalities with "open" CDBG projects are not eligible to apply until those projects are complete, he said.
"We looked throughout the county trying to develop a project," Hammonds said. "Jasper has an open project, but they can apply under the county's eligibility to get some needed help to fix their sewer problems."
Jasper's block grant is "tied up" in a water line relocation project across the Tennessee River, Mayor Paul Evans said.
He said the city will apply for $500,000 to improve problems with inflow and infiltration of rainwater through leaks that affect the town's sewage treatment capacity.
"Marion County would actually apply for the grant," Hammonds said. "If it is awarded, the award would come to Marion County, but Jasper would be responsible for all the matching funds to do all these improvements."
County Commissioner Jodi Rollins said if the grant money is approved, Marion would have an open project, too, and the county wouldn't be able to apply for any more funding through the program until the Jasper project was finished.
The state "pushes" to have the projects closed within three years, Hammonds said, but infiltration projects like Jasper's "usually move pretty quickly."
"It's basically coming in and replacing the sewer line," he said.
Community Development Block Grants cannot be used on projects like the Marion County Regional Institute for Higher Education in Kimball, Tenn., officials said, so that won't have any effect on the county's ability to get grants for that project.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryan firstname.lastname@example.org.