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Mayor Proposes Use for Money from Water Contamination Suit

Aberdeen Mayor Michael Bennett proposed a fund for the more than $2.5 million settlement.

During Monday night's city council meeting, the mayor of Aberdeen proposed creating a fund for the approximately $2.5 million awarded to the city in a water contamination settlement.

Between 2004 and 2005, Aberdeen's water well field was contaminated by a gasoline spill, according to Mayor Michael Bennett. After the city paid more than $3 million for cleanup and mitigation of the spill out of its own water fund, it filed suit.

The city recently received a $2,577,140.33 settlement, and Bennett said the ordinance he introduced at Monday's meeting would create a "revolving loan program" with it. 

Through the program, the city could use the money to repair aging infrastructure—namely water and sewer projects—while also setting aside future capital for a potential water tower on the other side of Interstate 95.

The money from the fund could also be used for recovery efforts if the President declared a national disaster, said Bennett at the Oct. 22 council meeting.

Any deviation from the plan—such as using funds for other projects—would require a public referendum.

"...we feel that the citizens having the final say…is the best way we can go about it," Bennett said.

The next meeting of the Aberdeen city council is at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5.

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