“It was quite a bigger ask than I had initially anticipated”
[ By Kendra Walker ]
The Mt. Crested Butte town council has agreed to grant a total of $93,500 in community service grants to local non-profits. During their regular meeting on November 1, the council reviewed the grant applications and determined amounts they were comfortable granting in 2023.
This is the first time the town has invited a community service grants cycle, which was in response to the town council receiving one-off grant asks from non-profits throughout the year.
“Part of this was in response to the one-offs that we were getting, and occasionally it’s a big ask,” explained mayor Nicholas Kempin. “There was some pushback from councilors about entertaining the one-offs unexpectedly. That’s what prompted this so there was a deadline and a cycle leading up to the budget approval.”
Prior to receiving applications, the council tentatively set aside $100,000 in the 2023 budget, which has not yet been approved. The town received 10 applications with a total $148,500 in requested funds.
“That’s a significant amount of money,” said Kempin. “It was quite a bigger ask than I had initially anticipated.”
However, the council thoroughly reviewed each ask, spoke with representatives of each organization and decided to cut down on some of the requested amounts in order to stay below the allotted $100,000.
The council agreed to fund the following:
• $10,000 to Adaptive Sports Center for its Adventure Equity Initiative (full amount requested);
• $20,000 to CB Nordic for the Outpost addition (half of amount requested);
• $15,000 to CB State of Mind for a Mt. CB therapy scholarship program and valley-wide stigma reduction program (full amount requested);
• $5,000 to the Crested Butte Community School PTA for after-school programming (full amount requested);
• $3,500 to High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) for its Red Lady Program (full amount requested);
• $15,000 to KBUT to update its technological infrastructure (full amount requested);
• $20,000 to Living Journeys toward providing funds to cancer patients in need (full amount requested);
• $5,000 to the Trailhead Children’s Museum for building renovation in the old Center for the Arts (full amount requested).
The council did not include the Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project’s (GCSAPP) request of $5,000 because the town had already included the amount to GCSAPP as a line-item in the 2023 budget. Other entities that receive annual line items in the budget include $4,500 to CB Nordic to groom the Rec Path, $2,500 to CB Search and Rescue and $25,000 to the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA).
The council did not grant the Gunnison Country Food Pantry’s request of $30,000 for its general fund. Earlier this year, the council agreed in a split 3-2 vote to grant the Food Pantry $30,000 toward its Gunnison facility expansion project.
“[Last time] I charged them with trying to find ways for increased funding to reach out to the upper end of the valley,” said council member Roman Kolodziej. For them to come back and ask for money that just gets lumped into their general operating fund… I’d like to see something more specific. I thought it was a little tone deaf when back-to-back asks didn’t have specific reach to the upper end of the valley,” he said. “I’d entertain paying for a survey or outreach to figure out how to expand the service up-valley. I’d like to work with them to address how we can expand services in the upper valley.”
“We gave them $30,000 for their new building earlier this year, and it seems to me that is a good and generous amount for a single year of grants,” said Kempin.
Kolodziej also expressed his concern for the new grant process and how it could open a can of worms.
“I was caught off guard with two organizations asking us for money for a third time this year,” he said. “Once every organization in the valley hears all you have to do is ask and there’s this pile of money…I’m a little concerned with having to deal with that, frankly.” Kolodziej noted how the town’s admissions tax grant cycles are already challenging. “People have become very creative and savvy to fit in that box. Each iteration of our cycle we have to massage the language, and it’s a really uncomfortable and unpleasant experience for me.”
Kolodziej asked that the council and town staff revisit the process and consider going back to organizations requesting more specific asks individually in the future.