Belgrade will receive $12.58 million from the United States Department of Agriculture to overhaul its wastewater system, according to a news release from USDA Rural Development.

The agency has awarded the city of Belgrade with a $1.68 million grant and a $10.9 million loan for the construction of a new sewer main.

Belgrade has put up an additional $420,000 for the project and will work with the State of Montana Revolving Fund Loan Program on how to pay back the loan after engineering and construction bids are finalized, the release said. The timeline for those bids is unclear.

“Belgrade is one of the faster growing rural communities in Montana and that growth has created a need for upgrading the wastewater system,” said Charles Robison, the state director for USDA Rural Development. He said his department anticipates Belgrade to grow at 3.75% every year until at least 2038.

“This system is intended to address the current needs as well as accommodate that growth,” Robison said.

The $10.9 million loan has an initial interest rate of 2.75%. That’s about 1% percent less than the average mortgage rate. Robison said if the agency is able to lower the interest rate before the loan closes in the next two years, it will.

“We’re projecting 8,500 people benefitting from this project,” said Robison. “The most basic of needs of any community is, on the one hand clean drinking water, and on the other is a functional wastewater system.”

Rural infrastructure was an area of need identified by the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in its 2017 report to President Donald Trump. Robison said USDA Rural Development agency is “at the center of the efforts from the Trump administration through the task force.”

“Our job is to be a community development bank,” said Robison. USDA Rural Development offers infrastructure loans and grants like the one the city of Belgrade is using, as well as business development programs, cooperative development programs, housing programs and rental assistance programs all focused on rural Montanans.

Belgrade city manager Ted Barkley and city planner Jason Karp were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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