With Madison moving forward with its drinking water infrastructure project, Utility Manager Brian Jackson updated the Madison Board of Public Works and Safety on the rate study being done by Sherman, Barber and Mullikin at Monday’s meeting.

Following a discussion of the annual revenue requirements to fund the improvement and rehabilitation for updating the city’s water system, Jackson said there were two alternatives — one in which the city funds the entire project through borrowing $13 million and the other if the city borrowed $10.5 million in the event Madison receives a $2.5 million contribution from Jefferson County’s American Rescue Plan funds.

The city requested the $2.5 million last summer from County Commissioners, the group that will determine how the county spends its ARP funding, but the Commissioners initially offered $200,000 in a drafted spending outline in August. In a draft at a joint meeting between the County Council and Commissioners in November, the Commissioners upped the allocation for water infrastructure to $1.1 million, but didn’t define how that money will be divided, meaning some could possibly be for other water companies in the county along with strategies for stormwater infrastructure to mitigate possible flash flooding disasters. In the August draft, the Commissioners had allocated $100,000 toward the stormwater project.

Jackson said accountants calculate that a $2.5 million contribution from the county would result in a 10% drop in money borrowed from 77.9% to 67.9%, creating a savings of $182,734 per year, which he said over a 20-year period would result in a $3.7 million savings.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said the Commissioners and County Council will meet Tuesday in a joint session to further discuss how the county’s ARP money will be allocated, and he is hopeful for a bigger contribution to the drinking water infrastructure project.

“We have searched for multiple ways to reduce this increase but the lack of investment the past two decades combined with the cumulative impact from inflation over the past 14 years along with extremely high demand for grant funds, has brought us to this point,” said Courtney. “We certainly wish we could postpone the investment in our sustainable water resource but we can’t.”

Whatever is decided, Jackson said the city will be moving forward with its drinking water infrastructure project. “One way or another we’re moving forward in January either with or without their money.”

Courtney said he anticipates that by the first meeting in January that ordinances will be drafted and the rate study will be finalized, and that information will be shared at that time with the Board of Public Works and Safety and City Council.

“A 10% reduction in rates for users. That’s a big deal,” said BPWS member Karl Eaglin. “There are so many people on fixed incomes in the city and the county. I think the Commissioners need to look at this real hard.”

Courtney said whether the city receives more funding assistance from the county’s ARP funds will impact what the final rate will be. But he said it’s work that must be done. “It’s been 20 years since we’ve invested in drinking water infrastructure,” and it’s work he says needs to done for the safety and health of 20,000 city and county residents that use the water.

In other business, the board:

• Approved an extension to close the southbound lane on Broadway Street on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. between Main and Third streets for the Winter Farmers Market until the end of April. The board had earlier approved the closure until the end of this year.

• Approved PACE extensions for four properties by D Wolf Enterprises LLC until Jan. 19, 2023 — 815 Walnut Street, 819 Walnut Street, 821 Walnut Street and 926 Walnut Street. Nicole Schell, the city’s director of planning, said all of the projects have started, but “there’s one crew working on all four so it’s going slow” although it’s anticipated the work will be completed in less than the year. The board also approved a PACE final payout of $12,500 for 613 Mulberry Street, a property owned by Judith Koehler.