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Grants are an important source of funding for City parks and trails projects. The City of Eureka has limited financial resources that it is able to dedicate to improvement projects. A majority of the services that the City provides its citizens are funded by various taxes and fee revenue. This general fund fluctuates every year due to the economy and a number of other external factors. When City revenue is less than City expenditures, there is less funding available to provide services, and reductions are made to keep the City’s budget balanced. Grant programs help fill the funding gap for projects which the City’s general fund revenue cannot support and provide opportunities that would otherwise be fiscally impossible. Grants can also provide economic benefit to communities as local companies and businesses are most often utilized for the project in areas such as design services, construction and / or providing supplies.
Grant funding opportunities are provided by outside agencies such as Federal, State, Local, and Private Organizations through a competitive application process. Each grant opportunity has its own unique project guidelines respective to the funding organization’s desired outcomes. Funding organizations seek out the strongest and most impactful projects which utilize funding to their best ability. Through the highly competitive and complex application process, applicants must propose their plan, how the money will be spent, and how it is going to serve the desired outcomes of the funding agency. Grants are symbiotic between the funder who wants to support a public cause and the recipient who can carry out the project if awarded funding. Grant funding awards do not need to be repaid.
Due to grant parameters, grant funds can only be utilized for the grant project as outlined and approved by the governing grant agency or organization. Grants require a detailed budget and accounting for all money awarded. Any deviation from the approved project not only jeopardizes any current projects but can affect the ability to receive grant funding in the future. Grant funding is not a blank check for the City to use at its own discretion.
City staff are aware of parks that need improvement and are actively seeking grant opportunities to fund these costly projects. There are a number of factors that are considered when selecting a project in need of funding. Some of the questions that staff ask when reviewing grant opportunities to pursue include:
Unfortunately, not all projects that the City would like to complete are a good fit for the grant opportunities available at the time. City staff are persistent and continue to search for project funding. Some projects take a little longer to fund but their completion is just as exciting and magical.