1997 Regular Session
To: Environment Prot, Cons and Water Res
By: Senator(s) Dearing
Senate Bill 2796
(As Passed the Senate)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-17-85, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CREATE THE WATER POLLUTION CONTROL HARDSHIP GRANTS FUND AND PROVIDE FOR ITS USE; TO ESTABLISH THE STATE HARDSHIP GRANTS PROGRAM FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FEDERAL HARDSHIP GRANTS PROGRAM; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 49-17-85, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-17-85. (1) There is * * * established in the State Treasury a fund to be known as the "Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund" which shall be administered by the commission * * * acting through the department * * *. The revolving fund shall be maintained in perpetuity for the purposes established in this section.
(2) There is established in the State Treasury a fund to be known as the "Water Pollution Control Hardship Grants Fund," which shall be administered by the commission acting through the department. The grants fund shall be maintained in perpetuity for the purposes established in this section. Any interest earned on monies in the grants fund shall be credited to that fund.
(3) The commission shall promulgate regulations for the administration of the revolving fund program, the hardship grants program and for related programs authorized under this section. The regulations shall be in accordance with the federal Water Quality Act of 1987, as amended and regulations and guidance issued under that act. The commission may enter into capitalization grant agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency and may accept capitalization grant awards made under Title VI of the Water Quality Act of 1987, as amended.
(4) The commission shall establish a loan program which shall commence on or after October 1, 1988, to assist political subdivisions in the construction of water pollution control projects. Loans from the revolving fund may be made to political subdivisions as set forth in a loan agreement in amounts not exceeding one hundred percent (100%) of eligible project costs as established by the commission. Notwithstanding loan amount limitations set forth in Section 49-17-61, the commission may require local participation or funding from other sources, or otherwise limit the percentage of costs covered by loans from the revolving fund. The commission may establish a maximum amount for any loan in order to provide for broad and equitable participation in the program.
(5) The commission shall establish a hardship grants program for rural communities, which shall commence after July 1, 1997, to assist severely economically disadvantaged small rural political subdivisions in the construction of water pollution control projects. The commission may receive and administer state or federal funds, or both, appropriated for the operation of this grants program and may take all actions necessary to implement the program in accordance with the federal hardship grants program. The hardship grants program shall operate in conjunction with the revolving loan program administered under this section.
(6) The commission shall act for the state in all matters and with respect to all determinations under Title VI of the federal Water Quality Act of 1987, as amended and the federal Omnibus Appropriations and Recision Act of 1996.
(7) The revolving fund may be used only:
(a) To make loans on the condition that:
(i) The loans are made at or below market interest rates, at terms not to exceed twenty (20) years after project completion; the interest rate and term may vary from time to time and from loan to loan at the discretion of the commission;
(ii) Periodic principal and interest payments will commence when required by the commission but not later than one (1) year after project completion and all loans will be fully amortized when required by the commission but not later than twenty (20) years after project completion;
(iii) The recipient of a loan will establish a dedicated source of revenue for repayment of loans;
(b) To buy or refinance the debt obligation of political subdivisions at or below market rates, where the debt obligations were incurred after March 7, 1985, and where the projects were constructed in compliance with applicable federal and state regulations;
(c) To guarantee, or purchase insurance for, obligations of political subdivisions where the action would improve credit market access or reduce interest rates;
(d) To provide loan guarantees for similar revolving funds established by municipalities or intermunicipal agencies;
(e) To earn interest on fund accounts;
(f) To establish nonpoint source pollution control management programs;
(g) To establish estuary conservation and management programs;
(h) For the reasonable costs of administering the revolving fund and conducting activities under this act, subject to the limitations established in Section 603(d)(7) of Title VI of the federal Clean Water Act, as amended, and subject to annual appropriation by the Legislature; and
(i) In connection with the issuance, sale and purchase of bonds under Section 31-25-1 et seq., related to the funding of projects, to provide security or a pledge of revenues for the repayment of the bonds.
(8) The hardship grants program shall be used only to provide hardship grants consistent with the federal hardship grants program for rural communities, regulations and guidance issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, subsections (3) and (5) of this section and regulations promulgated and guidance issued by the commission under this section.
(9) The commission shall establish by regulation a system of priorities and a priority list of projects eligible for funding with loans from the revolving fund.
(10) The commission may provide a loan from the revolving fund only with respect to a project if that project is on the priority list established by the commission.
(11) The revolving fund shall be credited with all payments of principal and interest derived from the fund uses described in subsection (7) of this section.
(12) The commission may establish and collect fees to defray the reasonable costs of administering the revolving fund if it determines that the administrative costs will exceed the limitations established in Section 603(d)(7) of Title VI of the federal Clean Water Act, as amended. The administration fees may be included in loan amounts to political subdivisions for the purpose of facilitating payment to the commission. The fees may not exceed five percent (5%) of the loan amount.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.