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City budget includes a host of infrastructure projects

| July 27, 2022 1:20 PM

Columbia Falls will not increase its city street light and sidewalk fees this year. Consumers will also not see any increases to city sewer and water rates, city manager Susan Nicosia told council last week.

The city is in the process of formulating its ’22-’23 budget and will hold a public hearing at its Aug. 1 meeting. The hearing is typically continued until the budget is finalized, usually later in the month.

There’s a host of projects either underway or slated for either this coming year or next, depnding on funding.

Here’s a look at some of the bigger items:

• The city is upgrading its sewage treatment plant. The $5.5 million project is funded through money saved in the city’s sewer and water fund and a significant federal grant. The total cost is $5.5 million. The city did not have to borrow money for the project because of $4.357 million in federal ARPA grants, with the remainder coming from sewage fund reserves.

• The water line on Fifth Avenue East North will be repaired and upgraded for about $290,000.

• The city plans on upgrading 12th Avenue West either late this year or next. It has just gone out for bid, but is expected to cost $1.2 million, about half of which is a federal grant.

• The city will look to put more curb and gutters on downtown streets, at a cost of about $500,000. That will be paid through tax increment financing.

• The city plans upgrades at its parks, including a sand volleyball pit at Columbus and pickleball courts; a toilet at Pinewood Park and repairs to River’s Edge Park, which was damaged by flooding.

• The preliminary cost estimate for a railroad quiet zone in the city is $633,400. With a quiet zone, the train doesn’t blow its whistle as it goes through town.

• A bike path/sidewalk project to tie in Fourth Avenue West and Sixth Avenue West has a price tag of $226,000. That would serve students at the new Glacier Gateway Elementary School.

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