Sheldon, Iowa — A contingent of northwest Iowans were in Des Moines Tuesday to talk to state lawmakers about funding for the Lewis & Clark Water Project.
Sheldon City Councilman Wayne Barahona tells us about the trip.
(As above) “We were all there to talk with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the RIF (Rural Iowa Infrastructure) spending. It’s basically the money that comes in from gambling revenue and that was the purpose of our trip, was to attend that hearing.”
Barahona says that, while the contingent has strong support from this area’s legislators, the general reception of the subcommittee was less enthusiastic.
(As above) “I’d say that our reception was lukewarm. We have strong support within our own representatives and our own senators, of course they understand the underscored need for getting quality water available to northwest Iowa, but specifically Sheldon and Sibley, which this funding would directly benefit. The way it stands right now, the monies coming in…that would be coming in from that RIF Fund…would be money that would start the water tower…construction on the water tower that would immediately be serving Sheldon once that construction is complete.”
He says the delegation went seeking a loan for the project from the State of Iowa.
(As above) “We went down to Des Moines to ask for a loan, which was a little bit different than everyone else that was there, (most of whom) were asking for free money, or a grant, or something like that. Lewis & Clark was looking for a loan to start the start the construction process now, and then we would be able to pay that back through federal monies that would become available in 2023.”
Barahona talks about the reason the contingent had to make the trek to Des Moines.
(As above) “The whole reason we had to do this dog and pony show is that the last couple of years we were denied any funding for Lewis & Clark from the state side. This year, we were told this was going to be our year, and so our initial request was for $1.7-million to begin construction for the Sheldon water tower and to complete…or at least get a good, long way on Sibley’s connection. And the explanation that was given to me was that the money was accidentally omitted from the governor’s budget when it was submitted at budget time. So instead of it just being part of the budget, with everything being signed off and ready to go, we then had to appear before the House Appropriations Subcommittee and plead our case as to why our request was valid and why they should why they should be spending $1.7-million on us, versus various other maintenance and construction projects that were proposed by different entities across the state.”
Barahona says the Lewis & Clark contingent met with as many of the committee’s lawmakers as possible after the hearing, in an effort to plead their case on a one-to-one, face-to-face basis.