Lansing — Emergency state funding for dredging 49 public Great Lakes harbors came closer to reality Wednesday when the state House approved the $21 million bill.
The House tacked on $1 million for administrative costs for a low-interest loan program for private marinas to borrow up to $500,000 for dredging projects.
The Senate is expected to accept the changes and send the spending bill and legislation authorizing the loan program to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk today.
"The timing on this is very sensitive," said state Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart.
Under the funding bill, the money will be distributed to 49 communities that will hire excavating companies to dredge sand from public harbors and marinas suffering from low water levels that threaten the passage of large sailboats and recreational boats this summer, Hansen said.
Three of the dredging projects are in Metro Detroit — Lake Erie Metropark Marina in Rockwood; Lake St. Clair Metropark Marina in Harrison Township; and the William G. Milliken State Harbor in Detroit.
To help private marinas, lawmakers want to create a $20 million loan program to be administered by private banks. The $1 million in tax dollars will subsidize the program by covering administrative costs for private banks — up to 5 percent of the principal — that agree to finance the loans up to $500,000 at an interest rate of up to 2.5 percent.