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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Small Community Wastewater Grants Program

Do you give out grants?

Yes, wastewater grants for financially disadvantaged small municipalities authorized by Chapter 62-505, F.A.C. are available..

How much funding is available annually?

Approximately $10 million per year using current projections.

What activities will the grants fund?

Grants will fund the planning, design, and construction of wastewater collection, transmission, treatment, disposal, and reuse facilities. Grants will not fund stormwater facilities or fund operation and maintenance costs.

What are the characteristics of a top priority project?

The top priority projects will involve the elimination of a public health hazard, DEP-ordered upgrade/rehabilitation of an existing treatment plant that is out of compliance with their permit, or a project that eliminates excessive infiltration/inflow.

Can a grant be used to purchase existing facilities?

No.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Municipalities will have to meet the following criteria:

  1. Municipalities only (no privates, counties or special districts).
  2. Total population and a service area population of 7,500 or less.
  3. Per capita income less than $21,557.

What determines the amount of grant I get?

  1. The grant percentage is based on the type of project and the municipality’s affordability index (ability to repay).
  2. Funding from other state or federal sources is deducted from the total project cost prior to applying the grant percentage.
  3. The maximum subsidy a municipality can receive from this program is $10 million per grant. Note that a municipality can have only one open grant at a time.

What is an affordability index?

The affordability index is an empirical number that is calculated using a computer model that factors in a combination of the most recent median household income, poverty, and unemployment census statistics by census track and is used to determine a project sponsor’s ability to repay a loan.

How will the grant be paid?

  1. If the project sponsor receives a companion CWSRF loan, the grant program provides a subsidy to the required repayments.
  2. If the local share component of the project is not funded through a CWSRF loan, the grant will be disbursed to the sponsor on a cost reimbursement basis at the grant percentage up to $500,000 per year. The sponsor is responsible for funding the non-grant share of the project costs and for covering project costs in excess of the annual allotment.

What other funding options are available for utility infrastructure projects?

The Florida Department of Community Affairs, the Federal Rural Development Agency, and the Federal Economic Development Agency are all possible funding sources.

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Water Pollution Control SRF program

What is the State Revolving Fund Program?

The Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program provides low interest loans for water pollution control activities and facilities. Water pollution control can be divided into point source (a permit for discharge in an urban area is generally involved) and non-point source (stormwater runoff from agricultural operations is generally involved). The Clean Water SRF Program is distinct from the Safe Drinking Water Act SRF that provides funding for drinking water activities and facilities. The Clean Water SRF Program began in 1989 and over two billion dollars in loans have been made by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Program revolves in perpetuity using state and federal appropriations, loan repayments, investment earnings, and bond proceeds.

What kinds of projects are eligible?

Projects eligible for SRF loans include wastewater management facilities, reclaimed wastewater reuse facilities, stormwater management facilities, widely accepted pollution control practices (sometimes called "best management practices") associated with agricultural stormwater runoff pollution control activities, and estuary protection activities and facilities.

Are loans limited to construction financing?

No, loans can be for the planning and engineering costs necessary to get ready for construction. Such loans are described as “preconstruction loans.” Preconstruction loans are available to the sponsors of any project that will result in construction of stormwater or wastewater management facilities. Of course, loans and loan amendments can be made to finance construction. When a project involves the control of agricultural runoff, a loan also may be for the costs associated with widely accepted pollution control practices that include technical services and the purchase of equipment. In summary, loans can be for just about any activity associated with water pollution control.

Who is eligible for loans?

Eligibility is established in the federal Clean Water Act. Local governments (municipalities, counties, authorities, special districts, and agencies thereof) are eligible for loans to control wastewater and stormwater pollution. Non-governmental parties (basically any entity that can repay a loan) are eligible for loans to control stormwater pollution related to agricultural operations.

What assistance is available for small communities?

At the beginning of each year, small communities having populations less than 20,000 are entitled to priority use of 15% of all loan funds. In addition, small communities qualify for loans from the unreserved 85% funds. All projects are prioritized for funding according to a system that favors small projects regardless of who the project sponsor is. Over the years, small communities have accounted for 30% of all loans.

Why should I bother with the SRF?

The program has been streamlined to make it easier to get funding and the SRF offers interest rates well below market rates. The value of the subsidy varies with the individual borrower's economic wellbeing, which is measured by income, unemployment, and poverty. Generally, interest rates vary from 20% of the market rate for a financially disadvantaged community to 80% of the market rate for a more affluent community. Most communities (95%) have qualified for rates below 60% of the market rate. The average is about 55% of market rate. An example may serve to illustrate the SRF savings. A local government with a very good AA bond rating would pay 21% more in total interest on a 5.0%, 20-year marketplace loan as it would on a 3.0% (60% of market rate), 20-year SRF loan! For a one million dollar loan, that is an extra $256,400 in interest that would have to be paid to the bondholders to get marketplace financing! For a loan at 55% of the market rate a local government would pay 22% less in interest and would save $286,700 in interest. The savings available to communities that have less favorable bond ratings (or none at all) would be greater than for the example given. In addition to excellent rates, all loans offer fixed rate financing for the principal amount of the loan and for the life of the loan.

What are the loan terms?

Generally, loans are to be repaid over 20 years or the useful life of the project whichever is less. The loan repayment period can be extended to a maximum of 30 years or useful life of the project for projects to benefit a small community with a financial hardship. Preconstruction loans and loans for the costs associated with pollution control associated with agricultural runoff have shorter loan repayment periods (generally 10 years). The interest rate is below market. An interest rate write-down (subsidy) is available to both governmental and non-governmental borrowers. Once established, the rate does not change over the life of the loan. Repayment begins six months after project work is scheduled for completion. Payback consists of equal semiannual repayments. A dedicated revenue source to repay the loan is required. Excess revenue, debt service reserve and other loan security features may vary depending on the source and predictability of the dedicated revenue.

How is the market rate determined?

The market rate for interest is established using the Thomson Publishing Corporation's "Bond Buyer" 20-Bond GO Index. It is established by the Department as of January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1 of each year and it is the average weekly yield during the three months immediately preceding the date of determination. The average weekly yield is derived from the yields reported in the "Bond Buyer" for the full weeks occurring during the three-month period.

How is my financing rate determined?

The financing rate shall be (affordability index divided by 200) times the market rate. The maximum financing rate shall be limited to eighty percent of the market rate. The financing rate for a non-governmental sponsor of a project that qualifies for funding as a result of Section 319 or 320 of the Act shall be fifty percent of the market rate.

What is the affordability index?

The "Affordability Index" is the empirical number that is generated for a project sponsor using a computer model entitled "Final Report Statistical Wt. – No Sales," which is based on a combination of the most recent median household income, poverty, and unemployment census statistics for local governments. The model was developed for the program in March 2003, by the Economics Department at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. It is available for your use and it is located in the Water Pollution Control Manual under publications.

Is there a maximum or minimum loan size?

The maximum amount of funds available to any one sponsor during a fiscal year is 25% of the programs available funds. Normally the maximum amount is established by a segment cap. Generally, the segment cap is set to $15 - $20 million. When a project sponsor qualifies for funding in excess of that available to it in any one fiscal year the project shall be scheduled to receive funding in subsequent fiscal years subject to the segment cap.

While there is no minimum loan amount project sponsors should consider program requirements (like planning, design, permitting and audit requirements) before deciding to proceed with loan funding. It is recommended that the loan amount be a minimum of $250,000.

What are the steps in obtaining a loan?

First, project information is provided on a Request for Inclusion Form to establish the project sponsor, a project description, priority score, and estimated project cost. For preconstruction loans this is the only documentation required to be put on the Department’s project priority list. If pursuing a construction loan, completion of a planning, design, permitting and site certification process is needed next. The Department will then add the project to its project priority list at a public hearing. Once it is placed on the fundable portion of the priority list for a preconstruction or construction loan a completed Loan Application Form is sent to the Bureau of Water Facilities Funding. Finally, a Loan Agreement drafted by the Department is executed by both parties to the loan. All forms are available on the Department’s website at www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wff/wwmanual.htm.

What is the timeline for getting funds?

The process can be initiated upon request of a project sponsor at any time. However, the availability of funds is the greatest at the beginning of the State fiscal year. A hearing is held quarterly to allocate funds. Potential SRF program participants are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Water Facilities Funding for further information. The hearings are normally held in January, April, July and October on the second Wednesday of that month.

Is there a deadline to be added to the fundable list at the hearings?

The sponsor shall have postmarked or delivered to the Department all required documentation on or before June 1 preceding the first priority list hearing for the upcoming fiscal year. To be added to the priority list at a subsequent hearing for that year, documentation shall be submitted at least 30 days prior to the hearing. All documentation must be complete as required by this chapter 15 days prior to the hearing date. For preconstruction projects, the Request for Inclusion form is the only documentation required. For construction projects, the documentation required under Rule 62-503.700, F.A.C., is also required to be submitted.

What if I’m late and don’t make the deadline?

If a sponsor is late submitting the required documentation the project may still be added to the fundable listing provided funds are available and the Department has the time to review and accept project documentation. This project will not compete for funding with those that met the deadline but will be added to the bottom of the list.

Does the SRF program fund stormwater and non-point source projects?

Yes.

Are there fees associated with the SRF?

All loans are charged a loan service fee of 2%. The fee is based on actual project costs so you only get charged for what you actually use. There are no other fees!

If I have questions whom can I contact or where can I go for information?

For more information or to arrange a meeting, please contact:

Tim Banks, P.E., Program Administrator
Wastewater Funding Section
Bureau of Water Facilities Funding
Telephone: (850) 245-8358
FAX: (850) 245-8410

Or write to:

Department of Environmental Protection, MS3505
2600 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400

Or visit our website at:
www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wff

Are your documents and forms available online?

Yes, they are available at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wff/wwmanual.htm

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Drinkingwater SRF Program

What’s the first step to get a loan?   

Submit a "Request for Inclusion on the Drinking Water Priority List" form. This form can be downloaded from the drinking water manual or obtained by contacting Paul Brandl, Bureau of Water Facilities Funding, at (850) 245-8358.

What's the availability of grant funds?  

Grant funding in any one year is limited to the lesser of $750,000 or 25% of the funds available.  The total funds available for all grant projects is approximately $3 million.

After we sign the loan agreement, do we have to do anything else to get the money?   

Yes, a disbursement request form must be submitted. When a construction loan or grant is signed a sponsor can immediately request the administrative and engineering allowances. Other costs are provided on a reimbursement basis. A copy of invoiced costs (along with the disbursement request) has to be submitted prior to payment. For a pre-construction loan or grant, one-half of each of the administrative and the planning allowances shall be disbursed on request of the project sponsor after a financial assistance agreement is signed. The remaining one-half of each of the administrative and the planning allowances and one-half of the engineering allowance shall be disbursed on request of the project sponsor after the environmental review has been completed. The remaining one-half of the engineering allowance shall be disbursed upon request of the project sponsor after completion of the plans and specifications.

How long does it take to receive a disbursement?   

Approximately two weeks.

Will our first loan repayment be reduced if we haven’t drawn all of our loan money?   

No. Repayment amounts and dates are set by the loan agreement. The amount of the repayment will not change until an amendment to the agreement is executed. The repayment will not go down unless the loan amount is decreased. When the project is completed and all loan proceeds are disbursed, a final loan repayment amount and amortization schedule will be calculated.

Who should we contact about the status of a disbursement request if payment has not been received within the stated timeframe?   

You may contact the Contracts and Disbursement Section in the Bureau of Finance and Accounting at (850) 488-6439.

Are loans and grants for preconstruction activities available?   

Yes, preconstruction loans and grants are available. The project sponsor must be classified as a small community water system, and for a grant, the sponsor must also be financially disadvantaged system. The project must also have an associated public health risk component.

If I qualify for a grant how much money will I receive?  

For preconstruction grants the sponsor will receive 85% of the available allowances based on the estimated project cost.  For construction grants the amount received is limited to 65% or 85% (based on eligibility) of the cost to correct the public health component of the project.

How are projects prioritized?   

The priority system takes into account public health considerations, compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act or other enforceable requirements relating to drinking water systems, and affordability. Affordability includes the evaluation of median household income, population affected, and consolidation of very small public water systems which serve a population of 500 people or fewer.

Can I get grant funding to correct a compliance problem?   

Only if it is associated with a public health problem and only if funds are available after funding all other sponsors project components which have a public health risk.

When is the certification by the State Health Officer required?    

This form is only to be submitted when the project is for the treatment of chemical or microbiological contamination for which a maximum contaminant level has not been established.  For example chemicals such as MtBE, Bromail, or Microbiologicals such as Cryptosporidium.

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State Bond Loan Program

What can the loans be used to finance?  

Construction of pollution control facilities, including those related to drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, solid waste, and air pollution.

Is there an interest subsidy associated with the loans? 

No. The loans come from State of Florida full faith and credit revenue bonds. Bonds are sold on a competitive bid basis and reflect market conditions. The bonds are tax exempt.

What is the advantage to getting a loan under the State Pollution Control Bond Loan Program?  

Using the State’s credit rating, interest rates may be lower than that available directly to a local government. The cost to issue the debt is low using the bond counsel and underwriting services available to the State.

What is the required pledged revenue coverage?  

A coverage factor 1.33 is required.

Are there any planning, design, or permitting requirements?  

No, but there are construction time constraints related to the tax exempt status of the State’s bonds. Basically, projects must be ready for bidding when the loan is requested.

Are there budget and audit submittal requirements?  

Yes. Both the local government’s budget and audit documents must be submitted annually until the loan is retired.

Are loan funds made available "up-front?"

No. Loan proceeds are disbursed on a cost incurred basis.

Is there a maximum or minimum loan size?  

The program can provide $300 million per year. Loans less than $10 million probably would be packaged with other loans. Loans in the million dollar range may not be practical. Projects involving numerous small contracts, work orders, purchase orders, etc. are not practical under this program.

How long does it take to arrange for a loan?  

There are financial analysis, bond validation, and bond marketing activities that require in excess of six months to complete.

Who does the local government contact to start the application process?  

The Bureau of Water Facilities Funding of the Department of Environmental Protection.

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Last updated: January 17, 2013

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