DOLA critical for local government

Changing rules and decreases in available funding worrisome

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— City and county officials said the Colorado Department of Local Affairs is a significant funding source for local government needs and should remain so as long as there's money.

Representatives from the city, county, Craig Fire/Rescue, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Moffat County School District and Boys & Girls Club of Craig met Tuesday night to prioritize for the next wave of requests for DOLA energy impact grants.

Projects planned for the state agency's December grant cycle included road paving, a storage facility, an elementary school roof and a security remodel at the Boys & Girls Club.

DOLA energy impact grants are funded through severance taxes, which are paid on natural resources extracted in Colorado and sold in another state. Energy companies pay the majority of the funds.

They are intended to address community impacts from energy industry development, such as strains on roads, health care and schools because of increased heavy traffic and more residents.

DOLA's available dollars are changing, however, and so is the agency's grant approval process. Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray and county Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber said they noticed during a recent hearing with the energy impact program's advisory committee there is a new emphasis on ensuring grants are awarded to projects that directly address impacts from energy development.

"As opposed to other impacts from things like tourism," Gray said.

In addition to its apparently stricter rules, Gray added, DOLA has about twice as many requests as it did last year and less grant funding to distribute.

He said DOLA had about $28 million in available grants and about $58 million in requests.

Commissioner Tom Mathers said the new rules should help Moffat County stay in the game because it is impacted from energy development to the south and the north.

"Out of all the counties, I think we are the most impacted," he said. "The other counties with impacts get revenue from the oil and gas companies because that's where they have all their operations. We don't (get that revenue), we just get kind of squished."

Tthe city and county request millions of dollars each year, often for expensive purchases and projects, such as road equipment and paving.

Gerber, who administers the county's DOLA requests, and City Manager Jim Ferree said DOLA grants are of the utmost importance to their budgets.

"It enables us to do the things we wouldn't normally be able to do," Ferree said, such as afford $1 million in new equipment for the Road and Bridge Department, an expense the city applied for help from DOLA for earlier this year.

Ferree recently heard the city may not get all the financial help it asked for.

"If that happens, we just won't be able to purchase all the equipment," he said.

Comments

serenity9701 6 years, 1 month ago

NOW what does the Fire Department need? I see they're listed in both stories, but nothing is mentioned as to how much or what for. Somehow that department seems like a black hole...grown boys wanting big, oversized toys and using our money to pay for them.

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grannyrett 6 years, 1 month ago

serenity--You wouldn't feel that way if your house was on fire, or if you were in a car accident.

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50cal 6 years, 1 month ago

there comes a time when they have enough though! they have plenty of new equipment right now.

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whispering_rain 6 years, 1 month ago

And not only that but what about the chief of the fire dept. using the "chiefs" vehicle for his own personal use? I have seen him everywhere around town in this vehicle. Why are we, the taxpayers, paying for gas, and tires oil changes etc... for his personal use?

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xrsareus 6 years, 1 month ago

If you read the last sentence of one of the storys it says "The fire department and college do not plan to seek grant funds." Maybe the fire department is sitting back this time, which is smart. Remember a few years ago the fire dept. could not get a grant because the taxes were so low, the mill levey was raised and now dola has been real generous to our fire dept. Look and the state of the art equipment we have now and at a smaller burden to the taxpayiers in the district to get that equipment.

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rockstar 6 years, 1 month ago

It makes sense for every Moffat County entity with any needs whatsoever to apply for DOLA funding. It's our money to begin with. If we don't apply for the funding and do our best to bring those dollars back to Moffat County, then the money that left Moffat County never comes back. Whether it's the fire department or the school district or any other entity in Moffat County, they all should apply whenever they have a need. If we don't apply, then the money ends up on the front range. Kudos to the agencies that work hard at putting these tedious applications together and work hard to secure those dollars for improvements to our community.

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freeman 6 years ago

IF THE COUNTY WAS TO GET DOLAS HELP SUCH AS THE GRANT MONEY, WOULD THEY BE ABLE TO USE THEM FUNDS ALSO FOR SUCH AS ROOF REPAIRS ON THE COURTHOUSES 2ND FLOOR ROOF WHICH IS SAGGING DUE TO ROOF SUPPORTS THAT HAVE BEEN BROKEN FOR SOME TIME..WOULD THEY LEGALLY BE ABLE TO DO THAT????

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lonelyone 6 years ago

whispering, the chief drives that because it makes sense for him to do so. It does not make sense for him to park it somewhere, fire department or his house and then when there is a fire he has to go get it. It probably contains his fire gear and other things he would need as chief to have during a fire and to not have that stuff close at hand at any given moment doesn't make sense to me. I've heard that Mr. Cotton wouldn't drive it and it's my guess, Roy didn't need it most likely because he worked so close to the station. Bill works at Tri-State power plant and it just doesn't make sense for him to have to go to the station to get it and then head out somewhere for a fire.

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rockstar 6 years ago

freeman: DOLA offers funding for lots of projects. I believe the school district got money for a roof project this year; the county and city have both gotten money to repair roads; fire district gets money for fire trucks; hospital got money for the hospital. In my opinion, it only makes sense to ask for the money. So we get more new things ... I don't think that's such a bad thing, especially since if we - Moffat County - don't apply for funding, then the money gets doled out somewhere else. I don't see a downside to asking.

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serenity9701 6 years ago

I see that last sentence now...at the very squeeky end of the other story...the fire department NOT seeking funds. So you CAN participate in a meeting without having an ulterior motive? Sorry, I'm just used to seeing dollar signs right behind the words Craig Fire/Rescue. Yes, they do a great job. No, I don't feel they needed that monstrous new truck with outriggers that is STILL having to be re-engineered.

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whispering_rain 6 years ago

Lonelyone, does that mean that Chief Johnston has the right to drive it to do his personal business with his granddaughter with him? Now come on, I know a little about the fire dept. and I know that you can not respond if you have your children with you. I understand about him having to get there (at a fire) ahead of every one else to let the on coming fire trucks know what they have going on. But come on, again he can not respond when he has granddaughter with him. Oh and by the way, during the time of Chief Cotton the fire dept did not have a "chief" vehicle.

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