Grant to boost city infrastructure, long-term savings

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR – It’s about more than just $2 million worth of improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems.

“When these things break, we react,” Mayor Rick Sollars said of the city’s aging underground lines. “This allows us to focus on asset management and find weak spots before breaks occur.”

City officials learned on Wednesday that a $2 million Stormwater Asset Management and Wastewater grant had been approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to cover the city’s costs for a system evaluation.

The grant requires the city to match 10 percent of the first $1 million, which Sollars described as an investment that will be regained if not doubled.

“It’s not even dollar-for-dollar,” Sollars said.

The modest amount spent to proactively repair a line will allow the city to upgrade aging systems before an emergency situation. Recent severe weather had shown the expense of patchwork solutions.

“This allows a city like Taylor the opportunity to become very proactive and go through our inventory and find weak spots,” Sollars said. “There’s no overtime, no restoration involved.”

Sollars said that the city applied for the MDEQ grant prior to his having been elected mayor in 2013. As a city councilman, Sollars supported applying for the grant, which made available $450 million to communities throughout the state. Nearly 600 applications had been submitted and funds were first awarded in February 2014.

The grant funds are available for up to three years. Sollars said the city has the luxury of taking time to plan the most efficient use of the investment.

Projects eligible for the grant funds include development of a Geographic Information System, sewer cleaning and televising, software programs and training, manhole inspections, topographical surveys and other systems analysis.

(James Mitchell can be reached at