From roping to trails to wildflowers
by Mark Reaman
Eighteen organizations across the county will receive grants from the Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District totaling $85,366 this summer. The grants will help fund a number of projects dealing with trails, dance, avalanche awareness, rodeo and more.
The board approved the recommendations of the north and south advisory committees at its regular meeting on June 19.
The district had received 19 applications totaling $111,284 in requests. Under two different scenarios, the advisory boards suggested distributing $100,000 in the best-case financial scenario and $85,366 in the leaner financial scenario. Given the financial realities of the district, the board decided to go with the more lean “Plan B.” Even that scenario funded 18 of the 19 requests, with only the Crested Butte Film Festival getting shut out. The review committee apparently felt the film festival grant application did not align well with the request for proposals and fell short with the requested criteria.
During the meeting the board agreed that the district financials would be stretched because of the recent changes with the board, the staff and the television capital replacement needs. But the board was excited to be able to award a significant amount to so many recreation organizations.
“We do have cost overruns across the board and I’m a little nervous with all those expenses,” said board member Ian Billick.
“That’s one reason the advisory committees came up with two scenarios for the board,“ said board member Derrick Nehrenberg. “Given our budget I agree we should keep it tight.”
Board chairman Dave Clayton said the district has three reserve funds that are pretty healthy, with about $250,000 in the bank between the general and capital reserve funds. There is another $150,000 in more restricted reserve funds as well. Clayton said while the reserves were in “good shape,” the board should be prudent.
The budget will have to be adjusted since the board hired a new full-time manager, Hedda Peterson, and incurred unanticipated legal costs that came with dissention between board members at the end of 2018 and early 2019. The district’s attorney did not attend the June 17 meeting.
Clayton explained that total capital replacement needs for the television portion of the district are approximately $700,000, toward which the district has spent $94,500 to date in 2019. “Obviously it will take three to five years of annual spending plus much of capital reserves to complete the television translator capital replacement plan,” Clayton explained. “We plan to have replacement funds budgeted each year, plus having sufficient reserves to handle emergencies and unplanned needs.”
“The challenge is that we don’t have replacements for the main television system covered completely,” said Billick.
He also noted that while some of the grant requests were for very specific projects, others were more vague in nature.
North valley advisory committee member Cassia Cadenhead said one of the groups’ goals was to fund high visibility projects that impacted a lot of people. “We didn’t feel bad funding groups that asked for help funding some operational costs,” she said. “That’s a real need.”
“A mature organization should be able to come in with a grant application request that hits the granting organization with what it is they want to provide,” said Billick. He indicated they could then shift and adapt the funds of the organization to the needs of that organization. “But my tendency is to not have the board delve into and review the application details here tonight but rather take the recommendations provided.”
“The reality is that there are a lot of organizations and many of them are seeing funding cuts, so a lot of organizations are in need,” said Nehrenberg.
New district manager Peterson told the board the committees were able to fully fund many of the requests that ranged from $1,580 to $10,700.
“I agree with the tight scenario,” said Clayton. “This first process can be used as a learning experience. We should also be aware that there could be years when perhaps there is a major project coming online, like a rec center, when most if not all of this money would go to that one project. The granting process and awards will vary from year to year.
“There is still significant work in this current process to make sure the organizations are held accountable for what they applied for,” Clayton noted.
Billick suggested the board and advisory committees hold a “debriefing” of the process that resulted in the grant recommendations so the process could be analyzed to make it even smoother in the future, especially when there could be an entire new board.
The recommendations were approved 3-0.
Filling out the board
Two new members will be added to the board at the July 17 meeting. Maddie Rehn of Gunnison and Cassia Cadenhead of Mt. Crested Butte will fill the seats of Paul Wayne Foreman and Larry Parachini, who both resigned from the board last month.
Cadenhead was a co-chair of the effort to get issue 7D passed last fall that “de-Bruced” the district, allowing it to collect the entire one mill in tax that voters had originally approved. That mill levy had decreased under the state’s TABOR (Tax Payer Bill of Rights) restrictions. The 2018 ballot issue was approved by voters and is expected to add about $200,000 to the district’s annual budget.
Rehn is the executive director of the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative and has experience dealing with grants. Both will serve until the next election in May 2020 when all five Met Rec board members will be up for election.
The board reviewed the capital budget that deals primarily with its over-the-air television transmission system. Thus far, the district has spent about $94,000 of the $106,000 in the 2019 budget, the majority of it on a new truck used to get to the various translators.
The goal of the board is to develop a multi-year comprehensive plan for upcoming capital expenditures with the TV system. The hope is to have a draft of a comprehensive plan at the July meeting. In that vein, the board approved conducting an audit of the entire translator system with Canyon TV, to take place this summer.