Garfield FMLD eyes new joint grant program
A Garfield County organization that has doled out more than $19 million for various public projects across the county over the past six years wants to make it easier for local governments to partner up on some larger ventures.
Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District (FMLD) officials announced at an annual awards luncheon in Glenwood Springs on Wednesday a new “joint application” grant to be rolled out sometime over the next year.
The grants will be offered in addition to the FMLD’s traditional and mini grant programs, which have gone to fund a variety of public infrastructure, parks, trails, school facility and safety efforts from Carbondale to Parachute.
The new grant will allow towns, school districts and other special taxing districts to team up on projects that would be of mutual benefit, said FMLD board member and Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson.
A perfect example was the joint effort by Colorado Mountain College and the Garfield County Public Library District to build out what’s now known as the Morgridge Commons space above the Glenwood Springs Library, Samson said.
That effort garnered the largest single FMLD grant issued to date, at $750,000.
“We saw that as a testament to people working together on these types of projects, and we want to encourage more of that,” Samson said.
The new joint grant would not preclude an individual jurisdiction from also applying for a traditional grant, he added.
A municipality or district could apply for all three grants, if they wanted, Samson said.
Joint grants have been encouraged as part of the traditional grant program, Andrew Gorgey, chief legal counsel for the FMLD, said. But it ended up being punitive because applicants had to forgo putting in for an individual grant, he said.
Garfield FMLD was set up by the county commissioners in 2011 as a separate entity to distribute proceeds from leasing of federal lands for mineral extraction that come into the county every year.
Last year, the district awarded more than $2.3 million worth of traditional and mini grants in both the spring and fall cycles.
The district’s reserve fund stands at just over $5 million, so the other intent of offering the joint grant program is to draw down some of those funds, “and get that money back out into the community,” Gorgey said.
Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa said the joint grant program would open up a lot of possibilities for the city to partner with different entities.
“There are many opportunities for our organizations to work together and to look ahead to some different projects, especially if it’s extra money that would be available,” Figueroa said.
New Rifle City Manager Jim Nichols agreed.
“Rifle is a community that is built on partnerships, so I see us definitely pursuing those joint grant opportunities,” he said. “I don’t know of any specific projects at this point, but because we work so cooperatively throughout the community, I think we can work together with some of our stakeholders to try to secure some funding that will help the city.”
Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington said the new joint grant program could help attract funding for projects that are outside the county’s gas patch.
“It’s always challenging for us because we don’t have those direct impacts, so we have to be a little more strategic in our requests,” he said. “I think there could be some great opportunities for partnerships with the school district in this.”
Samson said details of the new grant program are still being ironed out, and it likely won’t launch until the fall 2018 or spring 2019 grant cycle.
Meanwhile, applications for the spring 2018 traditional and mini grants will be available starting Feb. 1 and are due by Feb. 28. Spring grants are expected to be announced by late April.