OURAY COUNTY – Last week marked (almost) a million dollar week in Ouray County, with the news of two major grant awards to help fund capital improvement projects.
Early in the week, Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs announced its decision to award $600,000 toward the county’s grant request for $697,000 to help fund repairs to County Road 361 (otherwise known as the Camp Bird Road). On Friday, Great Outdoors Colorado announced it will fund the $350,000 grant request from Ouray County for the demolition of the old grandstands, and the construction of new ones, at the Ouray County Fairgrounds.The GOCO grant was one of several that Ouray County pursued to help fund the $600,000 project.
The county concurrently applied for grants of $88,403 each from the Gates Foundation and El Pomar Foundation after encouragement from both funding entities at the Western Slope Rural Philanthropy Days in June. The Gates Foundation grant request was rejected in November; the county anticipates receiving word from El Pomar on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
News of the grant awards comes on the heels of the Ouray County Commissioners’ Dec. 10 decision to approve a stripped-down budget for 2014 that includes a 10 percent reduction in full-time county employees’ work weeks, and the closure of the Ouray County Courthouse on Fridays starting in January 2014.
The cost-saving measures come in response to a budget shortfall, stemming from declining property values in Ouray County and correspondingly lower property tax revenues. Ouray County voters rejected a countywide sales tax measure in November which sought to replenish the shortfall.