County still hoping for state grant

RBC — Rio Blanco County was counting on a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant to help pay for projects such as the improvement of County Road 4.
“We’ve only got one grant cycle left this fiscal year,” Commissioner Ken Parsons said at a County Commission meeting earlier this month. “That’s the one that’s in the hopper right now. If they take $15 million out of that one, that’s, basically, going to take it down to maybe $7 million for the entire state. … with the County Road 4 project coming up in this (grant) cycle for $2 million, it makes it fairly unlikely we would get that funded. And if we don’t get it done this year, then we might face a complete rebuild (of the road), which would be very, very expensive, at $2 million a mile. We just don’t have that much money laying around.”
Parsons said the county’s grant application for funding for the County Road 4 project will be considered in March.
“And then they normally award the grants somewhere on the order of about six weeks after that,” Parsons said. “So that would give us time then to get the bids out and do (the project) this summer.
“If we don’t get it in this (grant) cycle, then the next cycle wouldn’t be until the first of August. Generally, the first of August, we don’t have time to get anything through and get the asphalt down before the construction year is over with (due to weather). So that’s why, whenever the county has put in a major road project, we try to have them in the December cycle, so we get them in there and get them approved early in the year, so we can go out and do the construction.”
Counties like Rio Blanco are feeling the effects of the state’s budget woes trickling down to local governments.
“They’re saying they’re trying to spread the pain equally through the state and federal agencies,” Parsons said. “But local governments have problems, just like state governments. We don’t get to share our pain with (Gov. Ritter), but he’ll share his with us.”
Not that Parsons doesn’t appreciate the budget challenges facing state lawmakers.
“Cutting $600 million out when a year is two-thirds gone is not a simple task,” Parsons said. “I appreciate that, but the thing is what they’re doing to save money in state government is going to be passed on to local governments, which is going to cost us more money.
“But, to be honest, I don’t have any real alternative solutions,” Parsons added. “We say don’t cut us. I’m guessing everybody is saying don’t cut us. There are implications all the way down the line. These are tough decisions.”