MASON, Mich. — The city of Mason needs a new facility for its Department of Public Works and a new garage for its school buses.
But, while the new wastewater treatment plant adjacent to the current facility recently received a federal grant, the feds won't be paying for a new public works building.
The city was initially going to request federal funds for a joint public works facility and school bus garage, but rescinded its request this week.
City Manager Deborah Stewart said that's because the Department of Public Works wasn't eligible for a grant, only a loan. They plan on pursuing that loan, but took back their grant request so other projects could receive the money, such as a request from Ingham County Parks for a trail from Delhi Township to Mason and an Ingham County Fairgrounds grand stand.
The current public works facility is decades old and falling apart. It will be demolished when the wastewater treatment plant expands.
“Our wastewater treatment plant expansion has to happen," Mason Mayor Russell Whipple said. "And the plans for doing that require us to use the property next to the wastewater treatment plant, which includes the DPW facility.”
But that isn't the only reason they need a new facility.
“These buildings are very old," Stewart said. "So even if we weren’t expanding the wastewater treatment plant, there would be a need to replace the buildings they’re in currently.”
The city is also working with Mason Public Schools to include a garage for school buses in the new facility.
“Our hope is that since both buildings need to be replaced, if we can work together that’ll save the taxpayer long term," Stewart said.
The cost of this facility is projected to be $7 million.
Russell and Stewart said that since they are no longer applying for a federal grant, the money will come from taxpayer dollars and water and sewer user fees.
“It’s a combination because a DPW facility houses a lot of activities," Stewart said.
But even though Stewart said they are not expecting a tax increase because of this project, Mason residents can expect to pay more for water and sewer usage.
City Council member Jerry Schaffer said he was initially against the proposal, but now believes it is what's best for the city.
"The price is going to be a little high as with anything these days," Stewart said. "But it’ll get done and it’ll be a good thing.”
Since this new facility will also house Mason Public School buses, the district will pay for that portion of the building.
Russell said construction will begin in the spring.
“We’re at the point where something has to be done," Russell said. "We need to finish the project we’ve been planning and studying.”
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