Council to send letter supporting USDA

STRASBURG–The Town Council voted unanimously to send a letter to Virginia representatives and the White House to show support for the United States Department of Agriculture, as the agency would lose funding for grants under President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget.

The “America First” budget that Trump is proposing for FY 2018 calls for a $4.7 billion, or 21 percent, decrease in the USDA’s overall funding, and an elimination of the water and wastewater loan and grant program, which will save $498 million, according to the budget documents.

It also notes that rural communities can be helped by “private sector” financing or the Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Funds, which would be increased by $4 million in the budget proposal.

The USDA wrote to Strasburg Town Manager Ryan Spitzer, asking the town to write a letter in support of the grant program, and the town council edited the sample letter to show how Strasburg has used the grant program in the past.

Strasburg has used $5.7 million from the water and wastewater loan and grant program to meet unfunded federal mandates in the past, which required an upgrade of the town’s wastewater treatment plant because of more Chesapeake Bay regulations, and also used $2.4 million from the program to build the new water plant, the letter states.

“These vital rural infrastructure funding tools help small communities like Strasburg enhance and protect their economic health and vitality,” the letter states. “USDA has been our partner for decades in this endeavor and we must continue to protect and improve our infrastructure in order to make our rural communities thrive.”

Mayor Rich Orndorff said at the Town Council meeting that they plan to send the letter, signed by all councilmember, to Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and the White House.

Contact staff writer Briahnna Brown at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or bbrown@nvdaily.com