Moffat County plans for DOLA decline
Agency awards Moffat about half its request for road project
It’s not good news, but it’s reality, and Moffat County will manage, commissioner Tom Gray said.
As has become the norm during the past year, the county received less than it requested from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs energy impact grant fund last week.
State officials awarded the county $500,000 of a $1.1 million request, which will go toward repaving about 5.5 miles of County Road 7, north of the Craig bypass.
Grants from DOLA are lower and scarcer than they’ve been recently, the commissioners said during a workshop Thursday morning with road and bridge department officials.
With the energy industry experiencing lower profits, the severance tax pool – and thereby grant funding – is getting smaller, said Linda Rice, DOLA public information officer.
Because the county received half its request, it will have to cut about $403,000 from other capital projects to afford the County Road 7 project.
Gray said the county is willing to take the hit this year, but in the future, it may start turning some paved roads back to gravel instead of sacrificing other programs.
This year, the sacrifices will be a new road and bridge shop in Great Divide – budgeted for $100,000 – and a program to repave several area parking lots, which won’t be scrapped entirely but will be cut back by about half.
At the Thursday morning meeting, Bill Mack, road and bridge director, said he doesn’t see how the county can afford to keep up its plan to repave 5 miles of road each year without more DOLA support.
“The bottom line is, I don’t know where the money’s going to come from,” he said. “With DOLA funds, we were getting close. Without DOLA, I don’t see how we’re ever going to get there.”
Rice said DOLA grant revenue has fluctuated throughout its entire 30 years, but it seems certain it will be “much less” in the next 12 months.
Adding to the issue is the state Legislature’s decision to take $22.6 million from the fund in the next fiscal year beginning July 1.
Gray wants to show calm before panic, however. He said the county is able to overcome the shortfall this year, and it’s pointless to try and predict the future.
It may happen that the grant fund returns to high levels, and then the worry will have been for naught.
“Look at how much things have changed in the last two years,” he said, referring to the fund’s decline. “They could change again the other way.”
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