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Chaffee County Commissioners unanimously approved the grant funding and the grant recipient recommendations made by the Marijuana Excise Tax Advisory Board during the Jan. 15 meeting, awarding a total of $99,000 spread across 14 grant applications. The grantees included both some large organizations, as well as smaller county efforts.

“We had a total of 27 applicants this year, with a request for funding of $309,000,” said METAB Chair Rick Hum. “This is twice as many applicants as last year and nearly three times the amount of funding we have available to grant. We had lots of applications related to housing, and grants from organizations facing cuts in state and federal funding, including the Boys & Girls Club, and the Chaffee County Public Health Dept. which sought a grant for their child passenger safety program, and the FYI work with county youth.”

When Colorado voters legalized the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana, and set an excise tax which benefit local counties, it also authorized the 64 Colorado counties to set up processes by which the excise tax would be managed and distributed. By law in Chaffee County, the funds can only be granted to organizations that meet the parameters of the ballot language; non-profits that support housing, health, and child and youth initiatives in Chaffee County.

Other grants will help get new projects off the ground. The $15,000 METAB grant to Habitat for Humanity is to help build a housing duplex and the METAB funds will be released when the building permit is pulled.

METAB Grantees and Award Levels

Family and Youth Initiatives (FYI)     $18,500
Boys and Girls Club of Chaffee County $16,500
Habitat for Humanity – housing duplex $15,000
Chaffee Housing Trust $9,000
The Alliance Sexual Assault Response Team $6,800
Sage Generation Ark Valley Helping Hands $6,000
GARNA/Guidestone Out of School program $6,000
Mindfulness in the Jail /reentry program $6,000
Salida Circus Outreach Foundation $5,000
NAMI Heart of the Rockies Mental Health Support $3,000
Salida Sunrise Rotary Imagination Library $3,000
Chaffee County Health Teen Wellness Voucher $2,500
Chaffee Public Health Child car seats $1,500
Chaffee Public Health A1C Chronic Illness testing $1,000

“These are all local entities – the funds staying in the county,” added Hum. “If we had met their total funding request, we could only have funded eight of these efforts, so we reduced our grant funding to 75 percent for the larger requests and for the smaller grant requests that were only for $1,000 or $1,500, we fully-funded those.”

County Commissioners and the METAB members present at the meeting agreed that some sort of celebratory event will be planned to recognize the grant recipients. Between now and this fall, all grantees will be required to provide a written progress report, and a full report next year.

Hum said they would also like to “refine the meaning of what constitutes ‘nonprofit institutions who serve the youth of Chaffee County.’ We’re getting everything from the Boys & Girls Club to leading girls on outdoor hikes – there is a human services aspect of this.”

METAB members reviewed the grant requests based on a tight scoring mechanism, that Hum said would be shared with the applicants. “We want to show them how their application scored against the others. We hope this understanding can help them not just applying for METAB grants again, but help them apply for other grants as well.”

Hum said that three applicants which did not receive grant funding in this round are worthy of funding from other community entities. Full Circle Restorative Justice did receive METAB funding last year. METAB members think the funding for this should come from the District Attorney’s office. The Alpine Achievers Initiative, which addresses the urgent need for child care in the county, didn’t score well because the business model using Americorps volunteers isn’t sustainable. METAB recognized the importance of developing the CCPH Seniors Master Plan, but said that other community partners should be involved as a consortium.

According to the ballot language, METAB grant funding is limited to the amount estimated in the ballot measure; $100,000. Since more than $200,000 was collected in the first year, the excess amount was refunded and the tax rate was reset from 5 percent to 2.46 percent, which can maintain the $100,000 grant level.

Given the complexity of dealing with both the grant applicaiotn porcess and monitoring the funding distribution to grantees and their required reporting, METAB is recommending the county invest in grant tracking software. With the passage in the Novmber general eleciton of the lA ballot measure, which will require establishing a similar citien advisory bord to administer it, the two programs could share the $11,000 investment.