At the last possible moment, the Town of Star Valley attracted enough participation in a special survey to secure a $200,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Housing.
The town had to get 75 percent of the residents in the area served by its water company to answer a survey certifying that at least half of the residents qualified as low to moderate income.
The town will use the money to make improvements to the Milky Way Well site that provides the residents with household water.
“It took going back and back again,” Town Manager Tim Grier said as he thanked the council for hitting the streets to get the residents to complete the required survey. The town nearly lost the grant because a consultant it hired used income figures from Pinal County rather than Gila County.
Grier added that the water department director Robert Rippy volunteered his time to circulate the survey to residents.
Grier said the effort to get the grant took town clerk Lois Johnson about 1,000 hours. Grier said he also had to make six trips to Phoenix.
“It is a huge accomplishment,” he said.
Mayor Bill Rappaport thanked the citizens who participated in the survey. “They were great,” he said.
Securing the $200,000 for the well improvements means the town can undertake other projects with the general fund money that might have had to go to the well upgrade.
The grant “has been on the table” for about two years, Grier said. The time crunch came when the town discovered the Central Arizona Association of Governments (CAAG) had used information from Pinal County when it prepared the initial documents for the grant. That forced the Star Valley council and staff to scramble, starting in late December, to get the actual information about the community’s residents for the grant application. The town faced a Jan. 31 deadline.
Grier said challenges remain. The town will need a grant administrator. Although the town has a contract with CAAG to administer the grant, that agency no longer has a grant administrator on staff. Grier will meet with interim CAAG director Al Larson on Monday for some direction in solving the potential problem.
“If it takes so much time and money to get and use a grant, should we really accept them?” asked Councilor George Binney.
Grier responded that grants sometimes fall into the “$80 toilet seat category ... It’s important to the community even though it’s (the funds) diluted (with payments for administration of the grant and other costs not directly tied to the actual completion of the project).”
“With all the problems with CAAG, how binding is the contract?” Councilor Vern Leis asked.
“Al Larson is straightforward and I believe he will be straight with us,” Grier responded.