Moffat County applies for two road improvement grants

Commission unsure if projects will get thumbs-up from state

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In other action, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, voided warrant resolutions for the month of July totaling $721.67.

• Approved, 3-0, a core services program mental health services contract extension with Sharon Raggio of Colorado West Regional Mental Health until Aug. 31.

• Approved, 3-0, a core services program substance abuse services contract extension with Sharon Raggio of Colorado West Regional Mental Health until Aug. 31.

• Approved, 3-0, a striping contract with Rocky Mountain Enterprises Inc. for 39 miles of striping totaling $22,526.25.

• Approved, 3-0, a notice of bid award for the Craig-Moffat County Airport runway improvement project to Hi-Lite Markings, Inc. totaling $98,244.40.

• Denied, 3-0, a petition for abatement from Peter Epp on his commercial property in west Craig.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition for a new, part-time, temporary Department of Social Services self-sufficiency case manager.

• Heard a presentation from county assessor Suzanne Brinks on possibly purchasing Tyler Technologies information management software for all county departments.

After a year of waiting, the Moffat County Commission is ready to submit two energy impact grant applications to the Department of Local Affairs.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the commission approved, 3-0, two grant applications for road improvements to Moffat County Road 107 and Ninth Street.

The commission requested $613,680 for County Road 107 improvements and $131,576.50 for Ninth Street improvement from DOLA.

Moffat County budget analyst Tinneal Gerber said there has been a yearlong hold on applications for DOLA energy and mineral impact assistance grants.

The county’s application for funding is required to be submitted to the state by Sunday to have a chance to receive funding from a pool of $52.5 million, Gerber said.

The commission stated it could extend the life of County Road 107 by performing a 3-inch overlay on approximately four miles of road, replace a wooden bridge and re-route the road at the entrance of Tri-State Generation & Transmission’s Craig Station, if the grant was approved.

The commission also wrote the Ninth Street improvement projects would include a 2-inch overlay on the first section of the street, the intersection of County Road 7, and a three-inch overlay on the remainder of the street.

Commissioner Tom Mathers said the two projects were the most needed projects the county could apply for.

“It’s things that needed to be done,” he said after the meeting. “We know how long the life of a highway is, and those are things that needed to be fixed. We need to keep them upgraded.”

Commissioner Tom Gray said the two requested projects were justified because of the locations served along the path of the roads.

County Road 107 leads to the Craig Station and the Moffat County Landfill, Gray said, and the Ninth Street project leads to The Memorial Hospital and to new construction at Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Grants requested through DOLA’s energy and mineral assistance program are funded by severance taxes and federal mineral leases collected from natural resources extracted in Colorado, Gray said.

Portions of the funds collected are re-distributed to local entities to fund projects aimed at offsetting impacts from the energy industry, Gray said.

After the meeting, Gray said the amount of money available through DOLA has declined due to the economy.

Gray also said there are many grant applications other municipalities requested previous to August 2009 that haven’t been processed by the state.

DOLA has set aside $23.5 million dollars in addition to the $52.5 million for the August and December cycles to address the suspended applications, Gerber said.

Gray said he was unsure how many old applications will still be “viable” and how many new applications the state will receive.

“We know what the size of the pot of money DOLA has told us will be there providing they don’t take it this year for the general fund,” he said. “There are a lot of unknowns, but we are hopeful that we can get one of these projects, if not both of them, done.”

Mathers said the state could be stricter in the grants approved this cycle due to the shortage of funds caused by the bad economy.

“If they put in for swimming pools, I’m sure that is going to be gone,” he said. “Everybody recognizes this as a tough economy and they are going to say, ‘What makes the most sense?’”

Mathers is concerned the state may use some of this year’s energy and mineral impact funding to balance the state budget, he said.

Gov. Bill Ritter used portions of the grant funds to balance the state’s budget last year, something Mathers said “just wasn’t right.”

“He stole our local affairs money,” he said.

Gray said filling state coffers with grant money is an example of how DOLA has strayed from the original purpose of the energy and mineral impact funding program in recent years.

Mathers agreed.

“It was real hard to swallow sometimes when we had roads that needed to be fixed, and other counties had infrastructure problems, that DOLA would finance … a swimming pool or a park,” he said. “You get reports as to what they have approved and you think, ‘How are these energy impacted?’”

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