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Libby News Briefs
April 3, 2007

Funding Cabinet Heights Sewer Project
With the war in Iraq drying up grant money, the discussion at the Libby City Council meeting was how to fund the Cabinet Heights sewer project if federal rural development grant money is not forthcoming.

As of now, the City does not expect to hear about its grant requests until Fall of 2007, with the earliest the project can get underway being Spring of 2008, but 2009 is a more realistic date.

How to fund it? There are two basic options, if the grants do not materialize. One is to conduct an income survey of the residents in the Cabinet Heights area to see if the income level would qualify for other rural development monies. The second to increase the monthly sewer fees for all city sewer users, spreading the cost of the Cabinet Heights area sewer project over the entire city population. An idea not popular with Councilman Stu Crismore. Crismore told fellow councilmen the he would be non-supportive if those who benefit from the project don't pay more than existing city residents.

One engineer has told the City to rely only on the residents of Cabinet Heights to pay for the one-point-five million dollar project would make the project unfeasible.

That is a worst-case scenario. The City has a $600,000 dollar commitment from Treasure State Endowment Fund, and project interest and principle repayment from loans of the 8-million dollar economic development grant. None-the-less, funding for the Cabinet Heights sewer project is uncertain.

D.C. Orr commented that, "It is 180-degree turn about from what you have said," pointed out Orr. "You have consistently said the cost would not be passed on to the residents," he said.

Mayor Tony Berget told the audience that the City is, "making every push we can to offer the same deal as Johnston acres." The Johnston acres sewer project was done at little to no cost to property owners.

The City has received proposals from three engineering firms on the project.

The Council voted to approve the application for rural development funds.


Libby fees go up
Business license fees in the City of Libby will be going up, as will other fees. The City Business License will increase to $40 per year inside the City limits, and $60 per year outside.

Fees for rental use of the City's Ponderosa Room will increase to $100 plus $75 for use of the kitchen. Fireman's Park camping and RV fees will increase to $5 per night for tents and $10 per night for RVs.

Cemetery fees will increase as well. The City will charge $350 to open and close a grave weekdays, $700 on weekends. Ashes will cost $160.


The Mayor appointed Ron Denowh and Jon Dunham to two vacant seats on the City-County airport board and allowed a zoning variance for the Birthing Center on the 500 block of Louisiana permitting the operation of a commercial business in a residential district.


Libby Asbestos Cleanup
As part of his ongoing effort to get Libby a clean bill of health after exposure to asbestos, Montana Senator Max Baucus has called top EPA officials to a field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Libby on April 5. Baucus, a senior member of the panel and former Chairman, which has jurisdiction over the EPA, said the hearing is designed to make sure that asbestos clean up efforts stay on track.

Susan Parker Bodine, who heads the EPA's superfund program, will be the lead witness. Other agency officials, community leaders, and members of the public will be invited to testify as well, Baucus said. Baucus has continually pressured the EPA over clean-up efforts in Libby. In 2006, Baucus blocked all EPA nominees from receiving Senate confirmation until the agency agreed to expedite a long-awaited study about asbestos clean up. That so-called toxicity study is underway and Baucus says he wants a status check into its progress.

The hearing is open to the public and will be broadcast live on KLCB from the Ponderosa Room, Libby City Hall, 1:00 PM MST, Thursday, April 5. Citizens interested in testifying at the hearing are asked to contact Baucus' Kalispell office at (406) 756-1150.

Story by KLCB Libby News Radio, www.todaysbestcountryonline.com

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