PEP Board Receives Overview of DoLA for Southeast Region

 

 

Tara Marshall, the Southeast Regional Director for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, was invited to brief the Prowers Economic Board of Directors on various financing programs made available to communities around the state.

“Most states don’t have a DoLA department,” she explained during the February 28th monthly meeting, adding, “The Colorado Constitution developed the department to recognize local governments and special districts and it serves those entities, helping to funnel federal and state funding for a host of projects.  There are eight districts in Colorado and I serve the southeast region.

Marshall gave a breakdown on financial aid received to Colorado from the American Rescue Plan, developed to help offset some of the social and economic impact from the Covid pandemic.  “Colorado received $3.8 billion in the first level of funding and the state legislature prioritized three areas for funding; job relief and job creation, housing and mental and behavioral health.  Each are received $1.3 billion of which $400M was dedicated to housing growth and community assistance to achieve that goal.

Housing development is a high priority in southeast Colorado and PEP, Lamar City and Prowers County representatives have dedicated their efforts over the past several years to develop continued housing improvement, rehabilitation and construction.  “DoLA can assist you in determining what type of housing market you’re looking for, depending on your growth in the job sector.  Do you need high end market rate housing which can be paired with manufacturing jobs, or affordable or workforce housing development,” she asked?

Marshall said ARP was in its first phase right now for state funding and the new legislature will determine, probably by May, where the remaining money will be spent.  “Cities have received their funding from DoLA for about $133 M and the counties received their funding from the federal government.”

Board member, Lawrence Brase, asked about available assistance for replacing revenue lost to water sales in the county.  “This is impacting our agriculture sector, as, when water is sold to the Front Range, we don’t get it back. That becomes a loss to our agriculture community in the present and in the future because future generations who own the land are not going to be able to make it profitable.”

Marshall did say some ARP funds are being directed to the long-awaited Arkansas Conduit Project, set to serve communities in southeast Colorado between Pueblo and Lamar with potable water by 2035.  “Towns will have to upgrade their infrastructure to become compliant to join the conduit and will need an engineering estimate for those costs, probably in about six months.”

The PEP board discussed general economic developments including manufacturing.  Local businesses are in the same boat as their national counterparts with delays in receiving equipment and supplies as well as ever increasing costs of materials.  Just recently, the Lamar Utilities Board approved a bid for stock inventory on some supplies with a 28 week estimate on delivery.

Dr. Linda Lujan, LCC President, said the college has students enrolled in a back-to-work program as well as a micro-credential program for healthcare and renewable energy with a goal of having people into the workforce in under twelve months.  Lamar continues to make progress on a City by App project which should be online later this spring, Wiley’s meat processing plant is planning on new hires, the Wiley Steering committee is working on their GoCO grant for recreational equipment, a new restaurant has been discussed for Holly and to date, one application has been received for the position of PEP associate director, an individual who will be groomed to assume the executive director duties when current Ex Dir, Cheryl Sanchez retires in about three years.

The PEP board set Thursday, April 21st for their annual meeting to be held in Granada and the executive committee will start work on new officer nominations.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureCity of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyCollegeConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyEmploymentFeaturedHousing

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