Belfast receives $400,000 grant previously frozen by governor
Belfast — Belfast is receiving its share of a $25 million bond package frozen by the governor last summer that was intended for use on construction of the Harbor Walk.
The city was slated to receive $400,000 from a Communities for Maine's Future Grant that was part of the larger $25 million bond package approved by voters in 2010. After city officials learned the funding was being delayed in June 2012, they were forced to either consider scaling back the Harbor Walk project or seek alternative funding options.
Doug Ray, a spokesman for the Department of Economic and Community Development, said the Communities for Maine's Future grant funds were released on Aug. 1 after an order was signed to allow the money to be distributed to the municipalities.
Ultimately, the city opted to cover the $400,000 funding gap through a bond anticipation note with the expectation the money would be released at some point in the future.
City Planner Wayne Marshall said the state sent an email on Tuesday, Aug. 13, notifying officials the $400,000 grant money was available. He said the timing by the state to release the funds is beneficial to the city because Belfast did not have to utilize the anticipation note, which was essentially a short-term line of credit, Marshall said.
Because there isn't a need to tap into that line of credit, Marshall said the city is able to save some money since it will not have to make interest payments. He said the city would have paid the $400,000 loan off over a period of three years.
The city did borrow $800,000, which will be paid back over a 20-year period, Marshall said.
Marshall said construction costs for the Harbor Walk, which stretches from Steamboat Landing to the Armistice Footbridge, are starting to incur “quite quickly” and having the $400,000 available will allow the city to apply the money to those costs. He said prior to Tuesday's email, the city had no idea the money would be released this year.
“It just sort of dropped in on us unexpectedly,” he said.
When the city had learned the money was being delayed in 2012, it received a letter indicating the funds would be released by July 1, 2014.
“It's great to see the money come forward ahead of that time,” Marshall said.
Construction on the Harbor Walk is about 65 percent complete and is on schedule to be finished by October, Marshall said.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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