Garfield commissioners, FMLD discuss Anvil Points money | PostIndependent.com

Garfield commissioners, FMLD discuss Anvil Points money

Steven Burket, dispatcher with Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority, was recognized in 2017 with a national dispatchers award after acing an emergency medical call only one week after getting his certification. The Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority has been a beneficiary of FMLD grants over the years.
Ryan Summerlin/Post Independent

Garfield County commissioners met with representatives of the separate Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District Tuesday to discuss how the recently released Anvil Points Oil Shale Trust funds may be distributed.

Revenue related to oil shale production on public land several decades ago, known as the Naval Oil Shale Reserves Nos. 1 and 3, was held for cleanup costs for many years afterwards.

It was finally released by the federal government last year after the cleanup costs came back less than anticipated.

The funds, known as the Anvil Points money, were distributed to Rio Blanco, Garfield, Mesa and Moffat counties, with Garfield County receiving 40 percent, or $6.8 million. The county also received an additional $481,609, bringing its total to nearly $7.3 million.

While the FMLD was established to distribute money related to mineral leasing and extraction activity on public lands, Commissioner Mike Samson explained that, because the Anvil Points money predates the Garfield FMLD, it should be used at the commissioners’ discretion.

Though Samson, who also sits on the FMLD board, believes the county should have gotten three times what it ultimately received, he has been urging the FMLD to send the Anvil Points money to the county’s coffers.

“Hopefully, [we will be] successful in transferring the money from the FMLD to the county,” he added.

The next FMLD board meeting is May 8, where Samson said he expects a decision to be made on the Anvil Points money.

The FMLD was established in 2012 to distribute money related to mineral leasing and extraction. The district has had 14 grant cycles since its inception, awarding grants for a variety of infrastructure projects and programs for municipalities, school districts and other entities.

Prior to Tuesday’s work session, the western Garfield County municipalities of Rifle, Silt and Parachute had requested the Anvil Points money from the FMLD go directly to projects within their jurisdictions.

“Anvil Points funding should be directly distributed to the communities impacted by oil shale — Town of Silt, City of Rifle and Town of Parachute,” a letter signed by the three towns’ mayors read.

Samson said he did not want to see the money earmarked directly for those entities, as “not everybody lives in those municipalities,” and “other people have been impacted.”

In the letter, the three towns spoke specifically to challenges the oil shale era created for Rifle, Parachute and Silt, including haphazard construction of major infrastructure.

Since its first grant cycle in spring of 2012, the Garfield County FMLD has awarded a total of $21,987,656 in grant money for projects across the county.

Grants have included $750,000 for the Morgridge Commons space above the Glenwood Springs Library, $500,000 for the Rifle pool project and nearly $400,000 for Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority radio tower upgrades over the years.

Among the reasons given for not giving the Anvil Points money to the western Garfield County towns is that there might be some countywide projects to invest in, rather than just solely focusing on those communities.

Samson said the west-end communities are the most impacted, but he added, “the reason the FMLD was established [was to form a partnership].”

Since 2012, the FMLD has awarded 198 grants, with less than $5 million of the nearly $22 million awarded going to eastern Garfield County projects, including in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Re-1 School District.

Nearly $6 million has been awarded to New Castle and Silt, with just over $9.1 million awarded for the Rifle, Parachute and Battlement Mesa areas.

Another roughly $2.2 million has been used for projects deemed to be of countywide benefit, according to the FMLD grant breakdown.

azorn@citizentelegram.com


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