The role of grants in helping fund City projects

By Stephen Clifton, Community Services and Economic Development Director | Jun 07, 2012
Stephen Clifton, Community Services and Economic Development Director

City of Edmonds elected officials and staff continuously work to maintain, enhance and improve your community.

City Plans, e. g.  Comprehensive, Transportation, Parks, Recreation and Open Space, etc. , identify projects and programs that either maintain, improve or add amenities to achieve this goal.

Unfortunately, the cost to implement these priorities is sometimes beyond the City’s financial means.

There are several options to weigh when considering actions related to various capital priorities.

Options include eliminating, deferring or reprioritizing projects, or applying for other funding opportunities.

The option pursued by many local governments is to apply for non-City funding sources to fully fund or supplement the City’s budget and subsequently minimize expenses to our local citizens

Local jurisdictions often look to federal and state grants which are intended to support projects that serve community and local needs.

Without grant funding, many projects could not move forward.

Government grant programs are authorized by Congress and state legislatures for very specific purposes and assistance comes with prerequisites and obligations.

Grants often do not cover all the costs of a project and many require local matching funds; this is known as leveraging City funds against other non-City funds.

Grant programs typically have more applicants than funds available which makes competition between organizations high.

As a result, many strong applications fail to receive funding.  This being said, over the past few years, City of Edmonds staff have been quite successful in securing both state and federal grants to help fund a variety of projects throughout the City.

Here are some examples:

1.   Historic Preservation - Preserve America Grant in the amount of $24,000 for a matching grant to implement artist made interpretive signage to identify sites of historic interest downtown, and another $7,500 State Certified Local Government Grant for a city-wide historic sites survey.

2.   228th and HWY 99 - $536,000 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Surface Transportation Program Grant for design and right of way acquisition to improve access and safety at the intersection.

3.   Main Street - $725,000 FHWA Enhancements Grant and $500,000 State appropriation for design and reconstruction of Main Street (between 5th and 6th Streets).

4.   Five Corners – $463,000 FHWA Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Grant for design of a roundabout and Right of Way acquisition.  The City is on-track to receive a $1,936,000 CMAQ grant for construction this year.

5.   Highway 99 - $289,000 FHWA Enhancements Grant for International District Illumination Enhancements (This is an additional allocation to the original $373,000 grant for a total of $662,000).

6.   76th Ave W/212th Street – $940,397 CMAQ grant for design and right of way acquisition to improve the intersection and reduce congestion.

7.   Shell Valley – $100,000 Department of Ecology Stormwater Grant and $250,000 Washington State appropriation for Shell Valley Emergency Access Road.

8.   Stormwater Improvements - $128,115 Department of Ecology Stormwater Grant for programmatic stormwater improvements and a $259,000 Ecology Stormwater Grant for a new decant facility at the Public Works shops complex.

9.   84th Avenue - Washington Traffic Safety Commission Grant in the amount of $6,250 for installation of a radar reader board which depicts the speed of cars.

10.                 226th Street Walkway - $185,000 FHWA Safety Grant for design and construction of 300 feet of new sidewalk and ADA curb ramps.

11.                 Efficiency Conservation - $160,000 Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant to purchase equipment and implement programs that conserve energy.

12.                 Interurban Trail - $577,000 Washington State Wildlife and Recreation Coalition Grant and $750,000 CMAQ Grant to construct the final segment of the Interurban Trail.


There is much work that goes into researching and applying for grants as well as administering grants once awarded.

This is where City of Edmonds staff excels and the reason the City has been so successful in competing for grants.

As projects and programs are identified by the City Council, via the adoption of plans, and as long as funding opportunities exist, staff will diligently work to secure grants to pay for projects and lessen the cost to local residents.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Jim Shelton | Jun 07, 2012 15:56

   Getting grants makes sense for projects that are required to support the goals of the city.  However, as pointed out in the article, grants often do not fully cover the cost of the project.  Thus THE CITY IS STILL SPENDING MONEY TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT.  Additionally many projects come with a tail - they usually have to be maintained, which puts strain on the budget ( usually the General Fund).  You have to buy maintenance items, repair wear and tear, and then pay someone to do all that as well as provide them benefits.  Looking at future cost is certainly something we haven't done a very good job with, which has contributed to the "pressure" on the city's General Fund.

   Getting grants to support priority projects makes sense; getting a grant for the grant's sake is bad business.  The City Council must screen the city staff's recommendations carefully to ensure spending now AND in the future makes sense, and will fit within the current and projected budget regardless of whether a grant is available or not.

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