What is the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District (FML District)?
The FML District is an independent public body created under state statute by the Garfield County Board of Commissioners in 2011. The district distributes funds it receives each year from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to local communities impacted by the development of natural resources on federal lands within Garfield County.
How does the FML District distribute funds?
The FML District distributes funds through grant cycles twice a year. In the Spring Cycle, the FML District accepts applications in February, reviews them in March, and makes its awards in April. In the Fall Cycle, the FML District accepts applications in August, reviews them in September, and makes awards in October. Each cycle includes two programs: a Traditional Grant Program and a Mini Grant Program.
What’s the difference between the Traditional and Mini Grant Program?
The differences between the Traditional and Mini Grant Programs are (1) the maximum amount of grant awards, (2) matching requirements, and (3) eligible projects.
The Traditional Grant Program has a maximum award of $1 million, a matching requirement of 30%, 10% of which must be a cash match, and eligible projects including planning, the construction and maintenance of public facilities, or the provision of public services. Grants primarily for planning purposes require a 50% cash match, and that match must be the first dollars expended on the project.
The Mini Grant Program has a maximum award of $25,000, but there are no matching requirements. The Mini Grant Program does not fund planning grants.
Who can apply for FML grants?
By law, only the state or its political subdivisions are considered eligible applicants for FML grants. Typically this means municipalities, school districts, public and state-controlled institutions of higher education, library districts, metropolitan or other special districts, transportation authorities, fire protection districts, and governmental entities formed by intergovernmental agreements. See below regarding “related governments.”
How many applications can our entity submit?
Eligible applicants are limited to one application per grant program per grant cycle, that is, one Traditional Grant and one Mini Grant application each spring, and again each fall.
Departments within a municipality, such as police or fire, or a utility or enterprise, are considered a part of the municipality. For example, a grant application submitted by the Silt Police Department is considered to have been submitted by the Town of Silt. The town could not submit a second application in the same grant program in the same cycle under the name Town of Silt.
Can governments related to / created by other local governments apply for funding?
The answer is a limited “yes”. Generally speaking and as a matter of policy, the FML District considers governments created by other local governments to be a part of the municipalities that created them and within which they operate. A municipality, for example, can by law create an urban renewal authority (URA), downtown development authority (DDA), or another similar entity. Each of these subsidiary governments is a political subdivision of the state and an eligible entity under the FML Act.
That said, the work of a DDA or URA is usually a project for the benefit of the municipality that created it. The FML District Board, therefore, considers a grant filed by a URA, DDA, public improvement district, or similar entity to have been filed by the municipality that created it. Otherwise, a municipality that had a URA or DDA would have “a second bite at the apple,” submitting applications in the name of the municipality and the subsidiary government each cycle.
Also, all property on which FML District-funded projects are located must be owned or under the control of the applicant. It is usually the municipality that owns the interest in real property, infrastructure and buildings for example, not the subsidiary government.
A subsidiary government created by a municipality could, therefore, submit a grant application, but doing so would preclude an application filed by the municipality in the same grant program and cycle. With respect to public facilities, the subsidiary government also would have to own or control the property on which the public facility is located.
Can our nonprofit corporation or private business apply for funding?
No. For-profit, private sector entities are not eligible applicants. Neither are nonprofit corporations, individuals, or for-profit entities seeking to start a business or expand an existing business.
What projects are eligible for FML grant funding?
Grants are awarded in both the Traditional and Mini Grant Programs for the construction and maintenance of public facilities, or the provision of public services. In addition, grants in the Traditional Grant Program may be used to fund planning projects. Of these three eligible purposes, construction and maintenance of public facilities have received the vast majority of grant funding.
Why don’t you fund planning grants?
We do. Grants primarily for planning purposes (planning grants) are funded through the Traditional Grant Program only. There are no Mini Grants for planning. In addition, planning grants have different, higher matching requirements. Planning grants require a 50% cash match, and that match must be the first funds expended on the project.
Example: City A submits a Traditional Grant Application for planning and engineering design for a major public works project. The total cost estimate for that work is $200,000. The city also submits a Mini Grant Application for $25,000 for design for a new city park. What is the result?
The FML District Board awards $100,000, representing 50% of the cost of the engineering and design costs, and enters into a Traditional Grant Agreement with City A. City A is then required to expend the first $100,000 toward the project, its 50% cash match. The FML District would then fund the balance of costs up to $100,000, the amount of the grant. Aside: If the total cost of the engineering and design work totaled less that $200,000, the FML District would fund no more than 50% of the project costs. That is, if the actual cost of the engineering and design costs totaled $180,000, City A would expend the first $90,000, the FML District the second $90,000, and the balance of the awarded grant ($10,000) would be remitted to the FML District as a forfeited grant.
The Mini Grant Application would be rejected. The Mini Grant Program does not fund planning grants.
Should we hire a grant writer?
Hiring a grant writer is a policy decision made by an entity’s management, probably in consultation with its governing board. The FML District is unaware when entities use professional grant writers, but it may be very obvious when a professional grant writer or an experienced staffer did not prepare the application.
Our grant didn’t get funded. What did we do wrong?
Probably nothing. The FML District’s grant programs are very competitive. Every grant cycle, excellent projects are not funded, not because the project was poor, but simply because other projects were given a higher priority by the FML Board in that cycle.
As a matter of history, the FML District Board has awarded more funds to the maintenance and construction of public facilities than to any other type of project (planning, public programs).
Are joint applications given priority over regular applications?
All applicants are reminded, if not encouraged, to consider filing joint applications and collaborating on projects of mutual and community benefit. But just because your town filed a joint application with the city next door, that alone will not win the day. Your project still has to be consistent with the FML District mission and still will be in competition with all other applicants that grant cycle.
I’m the Mayor of Town A, and the Mayor for Town B just asked me to write a letter of support for her grant. I want to, but won’t my letter hurt our chances for our own grant?
No. No applicant will have its own application considered differently because that applicant providing letter(s) of support for the application(s) of other applicant(s). By helping others, you will not be hurting yourself.
My application is late. Is that a problem?
Yes. Late applications are not accepted. All applications must be actually received at the FML District no later than the date and time specified on the application.
Sally and Sammy Smith hand-deliver an original and three copies of Town B’s Traditional Grant Application to the FML District Office prior to the application deadline. The 35-page applications are in beautiful, spiral-bound covers, and include numbered tabs and the best cover letter you’ll ever read. What is the result?
The application will be rejected based on several violations of program rules. All applicants must submit an original plus five (not three) copies of the application. Applications must not be bound, use covers, tabs, or dividers. No cover letters are accepted. The maximum page count for a traditional grant is 25, not 35, pages.
Sally and Sammy Smith correct all of the deficiencies described above and return to the FML District Office prior to the application deadline, this time with Town B’s Traditional Grant Application and their Mini Grant Application, along with the appropriate number of copies. Any other issues?
Sally and Sammy should make sure they use one envelope per application and clearly indicate (label recommended) on the exterior of the envelope (1) the entity submitting the application and (2) the grant program for which the application is submitted.
You sure do seem strict when applying program rules. Why is that?
Since its inception, the FML District has operated with three volunteer directors and a part-time staff. Violations of program rules often create an unreasonable burden on District staff. More important, all applicants are held accountable to the same standards to ensure fairness. It would be unfair to applicants who follow program rules completely and consistently for District staff to correct or overlook program violations from other applicants.
What is the Grantee of the Year? Am I eligible?
The Grantee of the Year Award is given every January at the District’s Annual Awards Luncheon. To be eligible, a political subdivision must have received at least one grant in either the Traditional or Mini Grant Program from the prior spring grant cycle, and the fall cycle prior to that. Example: For the 2017 Grantee of the Year Award, a political subdivision must have received a grant in either the Spring 2016 or Fall 2015 Grant Cycle.
The Board and district staff select a winner based on the following five factors: (1) Alignment with the District’s mission and the Federal Mineral Lease District Act; (2) Quality of the Project(s); (3) Quality of the Application(s); (4) Timeliness of Project Completion(s); and (5) Compliance with program rules and guidelines.
The $10,000 award is distributed on a reimbursement basis, for eligible projects only.
Where do I get FML signs for the project site during construction?
Signs are available from the District Office, 817 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Glenwood Springs, CO. Grantees are required to complete a Project Signage Tracking Form when picking up signs at the beginning of their project, and to sign the form again when returning signs in good, clean condition along with their Final Report Form at the conclusion of the project.