The value of grants | Mayor's Corner

Jul 19, 2018

Hard as it may be to believe, we're already entering budget season and need to start planning for 2019.

So as I contemplate our revenues and expenditures from the 30,000-foot level before diving into the details, I'm awestruck by one particular set of big numbers: the grant funding we've been able to secure over the past few years.

Since I have been in office, we have been pretty straightforward in letting you know the value of grants for funding important projects in the city.

We may not do a press release with every grant, but we attempt to let you know about major projects and how various levels of other governments assist with the work we accomplish.

I recently heard a presentation by two of our fine department directors, Carrie Hite of Parks and Phil Williams of Public Works, on the grants the city has received or has in the pipeline over the past six years.

While I knew we were very successful, I frankly was stunned with the accumulative totals: 61 grants producing over $56 million.

That $56 million included $1.78 million for stormwater projects, $40.01 million for transportation projects and $14.48 million for parks. Stunning numbers and what success! (You can view the presentation, which includes a full list of projects, online at bit.ly/2NX4823.

Keep in mind the grants and dollar amounts in this week's column are only from the two departments mentioned above. All departments apply for and receive grants.

We have a number of great staff grant writers who research available grants and determine if we have a qualifying project we should submit for the grant. Understand there are grants available from the federal, state, regional and county governments, as well as private grants.

Understand, too, the City usually has to provide some dollars as a local match to qualify for these grants. And, while we have been successful in obtaining the grant funding I mentioned, it's important to realize that many other agencies actively compete for the same dollars.

So sometimes we are successful, other times not.

Obtaining grants is not just about filling out a form and submitting it. Staff is actively engaged in meeting and explaining our projects at the local and regional level.

We also have active assistance from our lobbyists in Olympia and Washington, D.C., to work with legislators and congress members and their agency staff. Staff and I also make periodic journeys to state and federal offices to advocate for projects.

Grants for projects can vary in size and scope as well as dollar amounts.

Examples for Parks and Recreation range from a state of Washington grant of $75,000 for the Edmonds Veterans Plaza to $500,000 from the state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) for the City Park spray pad, to $1.5 million from the Hazel Miller Foundation for Civic Field.

For Public Works, examples range from $348,000 for a walkway on 238th Street SW from Highway 99 to SR 104 from the State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) to a federal grant of $3.02 million improvements at 76th Avenue West and 212th Street SW, to a $10 million appropriation from the state Legislature for improvements to Highway 99.

I know some folks do not agree with obtaining grants. While I understand that viewpoint, grants are there to improve the needs and quality of communities. Without access to these funds, cities the size of Edmonds would not have the resources for major improvements.

In conclusion, lots of hard work, telephone calls, emails, meetings, touring potential sites, City staff time, great support from our elected leaders in the Legislature and Congress and their staff, teamed with our great project proposal team, have brought Edmonds great success.

Another way to look at it is this: Imagine how much less we would have without this success.

We should all be pleased and proud of the progress made, and be sure to thank our terrific city staff.

 

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