Officials set priority list for next wave of DOLA grants | CraigDailyPress.com

Officials set priority list for next wave of DOLA grants

Collin Smith

— Large work projects continue around the area, and local government agencies plan on taking advantage of opportunities at the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to get them done.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission worked with the city of Craig and The Memorial Hospital officials to compose an area priority list for DOLA’s next grant cycle request period Dec. 1.

DOLA is a state organization funded in large part through severance taxes – levied on natural resources mined in Colorado but sold in another state – and mineral leases.

The agency grants money to communities across the state, including large energy-impact grants for areas affected by the growing natural resource industries.

Typically, DOLA notifies groups about whether grant requests were accepted, denied or partially funded abut three to four months after the request, said Jim Ferree, Craig city manager.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ferree represented the city and Samantha Johnston, TMH service excellence officer, represented the hospital.

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All present agreed TMH’s request should be first on the list.

“The hospital can’t go forward without this next step, and the voters have spoken,” Commissioner Tom Gray said. “I think we have to listen to our community.”

TMH will seek $1 million to match its own $1.7 million for site development where the new hospital is being built, such as digging for the building’s foundation.

The money requested and the hospital’s match equal its previous DOLA grant request last year, when TMH went to the state agency for help with utility and site infrastructure, Johnston said.

The development project “will probably happen mid-summer next year to ensure we have the weather we want,” Johnston said. “We have to have U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s final approval before pouring the concrete. We don’t have any reason to think HUD won’t fund us, but we need to wait and meet with them.”

The city, second on the priority list, plans to ask for matching funds to overlay about two miles of First Street, from Ranney Street to Highway 13.

“That road’s been hit pretty hard from the pipeline trucks,” Ferree said. “Our Road and Bridge Department is saying we’ll probably have to mill the whole road before we do the overlay.”

The city will ask for $200,000 from DOLA and plans to match that amount equally.

The county, third on the list, will seek more than $1.4 million to lay new asphalt across six miles of County Road 7. The county does not plan to match any of its own money, Gray said.

There are 12 miles on CR 7 that need to be overlaid, but the cost would likely be too much to get from DOLA in one request, Gray said. The county will look for the money to do the six remaining miles next year.

“If we ask for $3 million, we’re likely not going to get it,” Gray said.

There are too many roads for the county to keep up with unless DOLA starts giving more money, the commissioner added.

“We’re going to have to turn roads back to gravel,” Gray said. “That’s what we’re going to have to do if we don’t get more energy-impact funds. Somehow, we’ve got to show DOLA these impacts are now, not 10 years from now.”

Commission members agreed the city should be a higher priority because the county’s projects were higher during the last DOLA grant cycle Aug. 1.

“DOLA wants communities that are working together and trading off,” Gray said.

Last on the list is about $92,000 requested for the Moffat County Regional Airport, which is about two-thirds of the total $292,973 the project costs.

The money will go toward a new terminal building and new asphalt for the airport’s parking lot.

The airport was placed last because all present felt that grant had the most secure chance of being funded because of its high match.

However, local government’s ability to match is dependent on getting a $150,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

All present expressed confidence that the grant requested this time around would be approved like the grants from the previous cycle.

“Everybody got funding then,” said Tinneal Gerber, county budget analyst, referring to requests from the city, county, Moffat County School District and Craig Fire/Rescue. “It seems like they base their funding on how much your area is impacted, and we are.”