Grant could cover Silver Springs sewer cost for low-income seniors

SILVER SPRINGS - Low-income senior citizens in Silver Springs may qualify for a federal grant to hook up at no cost to a new sewer system.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development has a grant and loan program designed primarily to fund home improvements to allow seniors to continue living in their homes, state Director Sarah Mersereau said.

The program usually funds projects like a new furnace, new electrical system or new roof.

"What we discovered is (the funds) can be used as a capital project like a sewer system," Mersereau said.

Seniors age 62 or older earning less than $18,000 in a one-person household or $20,750 in a two-person household could qualify for a grant. This would cover the estimated $4,900 cost per household to hook up to the sewer scheduled to be built next year, Mersereau said.

She said 18 grant applications, seven loans and three loan/grant applications have been approved so far but payments have not been processed yet. These awards add up to $92,000 in grants and $58,000 in loans.

Mersereau anticipates approving another $100,000 in grants and loans for Silver Springs sewer hookups. She said all the grant money is in addition to USDA-Rural Development's budget for Nevada.

The Silver Springs General Improvement District has awarded bids for the $9.7 million sewer system and treatment plant. The sewer will initially serve about 1,100 parcels within a 2-1/2 square mile area bounded by Piper's Casino, the airport, the railroad and Spruce Street.

Construction could start within 60 days and be finished 12 months later.

Each grant application will be evaluated on the ability of the homeowner to pay the full cost up front or pay the annual $325 sewer assessment. Seniors who can pay some of the cost will get a combination loan/grant.

Homeowners of any age may apply for a 1 percent loan to pay sewer costs. Loans will be issued on demonstrated ability to repay the loan, Mersereau said.

Applications for grants and loans are available to the USDA-Rural Development office, 111 Sheckler Road, Fallon. Call 423-7541.

USDA-Rural Development also gave a $1 million grant for sewer construction plus a $5 million loan. Mersereau said she will likely offer an additional loan of up to $3 million to front Lyon County's responsibility.

Lyon County expects to ask voters in 2000 to approve a loan from the state revolving fund. The Economic Development Administration has committed $1.5 million for sewer construction.

The county's liability could decrease depending on how the Water Resources Development Act of 1999 money is funded and allocated. Senate Bill 507 calls for $25 million each for Nevada and Montana, but no money has been committed to the bill, Mersereau said.


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