We were very pleased when all of the bond proposals were approved by Maine voters on Election Day in November. Now comes the work of creating the rules under which these public funds are distributed to communities across the state.
As you know, we paid particular attention to the small business bond, #3; and the clean water safe communities bond, #6. Here’s what we know about how these bonds will translate to economic, community and environmental improvements in Maine.
For The Clean Water bond, ($5.4 million to upgrade stream crossings to reconnect habitat for fish and other wildlife, $400k to restore wetlands to provide increased flood mitigation, water quality and wildlife habitat benefits and $4.2 million to secure $21 million in federal funding to upgrade the state’s drinking water systems and wastewater treatment facilities), the DEP will soon announce the the details of its draft implementation plan, which we expect will include a public comment period. Visit http://cleanwaterformaine.com/ to stay up to date as the process moves forward.
In terms of the small business bond, Question 3 (which will provide $8 million in funds to make flexible loans to small businesses to create jobs, revitalize downtowns, and strengthen the rural economy, and also provide $4 million in funds to insure portions of loans to small businesses to spur investment and innovation), the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) expects to seek board approval at their January 15 board meeting to begin the rulemaking process, which is at least a three-month process (approval to begin process in Jan, public comment or hearing by Feb meeting, adoption with or without modifications likely in March). Then we will await issuance and approval of bonds by new Treasurer-Elect Hayes and Gov. LePage, perhaps by spring/summer. Then, once funds have been obtained, FAME will begin the RFP process to select participating agencies for funding. The current program is outlined here. It is expected that most current participating agencies will reapply to participate in the upcoming program, as well as perhaps some new ones.
We’ll continue to monitor the implementation of these bonds and keep you informed! Please be sure to sign up for our newsletters at www.growsmartmaine.org to keep in touch.