GarCo eyes share of energy funds

Severance tax revenue would help pay for three facilities

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Garfield County will seek as much as $1.8 million in state energy impact funds to help pay for sheriff, human service and medical facilities that could end up costing more than $8 million to build.

But county officials say their chances of getting the grants may be made more difficult by a new $20 million statewide cap per grant cycle. Grant applications amounted to about $60 million during the previous cycle.

Grant revenue is generated by severance taxes on energy production and disbursed by the state Department of
Local Affairs. The funds are intended primarily for offsetting energy impacts, but sometimes end up going for projects in counties with no energy development, Garfield officials note.

Because of changing grant application rules, the county will compete with individual communities within the county that will apply for impact funds, rather than working with them as in the past to identify countywide grant priorities.

County commissioners on Monday decided to seek $600,000 grants for a $3.5 million sheriff annex by the county’s regional airport near Rifle and for another human services building near the one that was completed in Rifle in 2005.

They’ll also seek up to $600,000 for a building to be occupied by the nonprofit Mountain Family Health medical services, also by the existing human services building. The grant to be requested will be dependent on how big a building Mountain Family Health wants. At the high end, the building could cost around $2 million, county manager Ed Green said.

The county will provide the land for that facility and construct the building shell. The county plans to rent the building to Mountain Family Health.

Commissioners on Monday initially considered a grant application of $400,000 for the Mountain Family Health building. But Commissioner Trési Houpt worried that the project had been scaled back from previous plans, and convinced commissioners to seek a bigger grant for a larger facility if Mountain Family Health is OK with the idea.

“It seems to me that we build buildings and then grow out of them before we open the door,” she said.

Although the county had built its existing Rifle human services building with the idea of someday expanding on the same land, officials hadn’t expected that day to come so soon. When judicial operations needed to take over more of the county courthouse in Glenwood Springs, some human services offices had to be moved to Rifle to create more office space in the county’s Glenwood administration building near the courthouse.


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