Berlin Scores Big With Fed Stimulus Funding

BERLIN – Federal stimulus funds will pay for 88 percent of the costly Berlin wastewater treatment plant improvements and expansion, the town announced this week.

Berlin is one of about 20 towns and counties in the United States that were awarded first round American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.

“Berlin will be the first municipality in the state of Maryland to receive federal stimulus money. We will be receiving this for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and expansion,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

The funding will consist of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan for $5,988,000 and a USDA grant of $5,828,217 as well as a Community Development Block Grant of $700,000 and a grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment for $1.5 million.

Berlin must put up $1,997,000.

The project will cost $16,013,217. Just over half of the project will be paid for by grant funding.

“Berlin is significantly benefiting from the ARRA stimulus money,” said Williams.

This funding has been in the pipeline since early summer.

“We’re extremely fortunate but we really worked for it,” said Williams.

Instead of pursuing all the projects listed on a preliminary inventory of potential stimulus funding projects, Berlin chose to focus on the most significant.

“We decided the best strategy was to go for one project and make it the most important thing we needed,” said Williams.

The formal application process began in February. “At the time, there were literally hundreds of projects we were competing against in the state of Maryland alone,” said Williams.

The town had tough deadlines to meet, with returns on information and paperwork requested with a week’s turnaround time, and on at least one occasion, a same day turnaround. Berlin did not miss one deadline.

“Every time people missed deadlines and weren’t ready they got checked off the list,” Williams said.    

“Many times we complain but this is the time to say, thanks,” said resident Jim Hoppa.

The town council voted unanimously to accept the funding terms.

“This is probably as good news we we’ll ever be able to report,” said Williams.