House approves bill that will send money to Moffat |

House approves bill that will send money to Moffat

The under-construction new Moffat County Courthouse project will receive more than $4 million in federal money after a bill passed Congress this week.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that at the time of publishing, the bill still needed to pass the Senate. It has since passed the Senate, however.

Federal money — north of $6.7 million in all — is being aimed Moffat County’s way.

An omnibus government spending bill, which passed the House of Representatives this week in Washington D.C, will provide general government funding across multiple divisions on a federal level but also includes funding for three local projects in Moffat County that were requested by local entities in the last year.

On a state level, the bill will distribute funding originally approved through a bipartisan infrastructure bill that aimed to create livable-wage jobs and growth for the Colorado economy. More locally, it will fund community projects in response to challenges expressed in Moffat County.

“Colorado’s local communities drove these federal investments. These funds will accelerate much-needed projects across the state,” said U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, one of Colorado’s two representatives in the U.S. Senate, in a press release Thursday morning.

According to an email from a spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado’s other senator, this was the first time in over a decade that the Senate and House Appropriations Committees accepted Congressionally Directed Spending requests from local community leaders.

“This process was an opportunity for communities across Colorado to tell Washington directly about the unique challenges they are facing, and propose projects to address them,” Bennet said in an emailed statement.

There were two local projects identified by the city of Craig and one by the Moffat County commissioners that the senators worked into the bill. The total amount of funding that has been earmarked for community projects in Moffat County is $6,709,000.

Moffat County requested $4,650,000 to be used for the construction of the new Moffat County Courthouse which is currently being renovated in the place of the former KMart building. The Courthouse project is already receiving numerous other grant funds in order to develop and move forward with the project, which broke ground in October 2021.

The city of Craig applied for $970,000 in funding to be used toward developing more affordable housing in Craig. Shannon Scott, Economic Development Coordinator for the city, said that there is flexibility in what the funding can be used for, as it aligns with the action plan from the city’s recent housing needs assessment.

When the City first proposed this project in June 2021, there were three properties identified that needed infrastructure improvements in order to make the properties more feasible for housing developments. There have since been other properties identified that would be eligible for this project, Scott said.

Infrastructure improvements could take the form of water lines, sewer lines, or other utility and development needs for a property to make it “shovel-ready” for a developer.

“That’s been our biggest hurdle,” Scott said. “There have been developers who are interested but can’t justify moving forward because they would have to pay so much out of pocket for infrastructure upgrades before making an additional investment. And those costs would be passed on to the homeowner.”

Although the high-level goal of this project will be to increase affordable housing in Craig, there are no requirements for the housing to be income-based or subsidized housing. Scott said the overall project will help with the strategies identified in the needs assessment.

The city of Craig also requested $1,080,000 to invest in emergency generators needed to maintain water and wastewater services during a power failure.

Both Hickenlooper and Bennet advocated for the city’s request to fund this vital infrastructure project to protect public health in Moffat County.

A Hickenlooper spokesperson said in an email statement, “a power outage at Craig’s water plant would jeopardize clean drinking water for 10,000 people.”

More information is needed regarding the details and timelines for the Craig infrastructure projects. Bennet’s office said in an email that it is not an immediate process; the application and subsequent disbursement of funds can take months.

“I’m pleased Craig and Moffat County will receive funding for three projects that will invest in the long-term economic health and safety of the community – by supporting more affordable housing, rebuilding outdated physical infrastructure, and improving the reliability of Craig’s water and wastewater infrastructure in case of power outages,” Bennet said.

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