City of Norris to seek grant for sewer upgrades

Norris will apply for a state Community Development Block Grant seeking up to $630,000 for improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment system, the City Council voted Monday night.

If the city gets the full $630,000, it would have to contribute a local match of $167,468, which together with the grant would give Norris nearly $800,000 to spend on the improvements.

Because of the required local contribution, the grant could cause the city to have to increase water and sewer rates at some point, but probably not right away, council members were told. The city already has raised water rates about 25 percent this year, as of Jan. 1.

The city applied for a similar grant last year, but did not get it.

And even if a grant is approved this year, it probably would be for a lesser amount than requested, City Manager Scott Hackler said.

The city is asking for the largest possible amount available, however, as it would not be able to go back and request more money for the same project later if extra money was needed.

In other business, the council approved a request from Hackler to be able to sell some surplus equipment and vehicles, including the city’s two Ram police trucks and a Ford Crown Victoria police car.

Hackler said one of the trucks is not working, as well as the Ford car, whose transmission failed earlier this week. It is being replaced by a similar used police car just donated to Norris by Clinton, he said.

The one police truck that is still operating will remain in service through the winter and will be sold as surplus in the spring, Hackler said. It has four-wheel drive, which might be needed during the winter.

The city recently acquired a used Ford Explorer police vehicle from the state of Missouri, and it’s now in service. The Ford that was just donated to the city will go into service as soon as it is striped, Hackler said. It replaces the disabled Ford cruiser, which was also given to the city by Clinton and had been in service about two years.

Mayor Chris Mitchell told council members that a fund set up by the council last fall to solicit donations to benefit the recreation department – and specifically, for improvements to the city’s tennis courts – should soon be getting $3,000 from an “anonymous donor” to help pay for the upgrades.

Mitchell suggested that the city continue soliciting donations for the fund and that its use be expanded to pay for other recreation projects as needed.

The council also was told that the city recreation department’s first pickle ball tournament will be held beginning at 9 a.m. this Saturday, Jan. 18, and that both the mayor and city manager would be participants.