How to Fund Infrastructure Planning in Montana

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We all have inspiring visions for our communities. We want clean water, quality schools, reliable infrastructure, safe streets, a thriving

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economy, and parks for our kids to play in. Comprehensive planning provides a framework to help communities transform their ideas into reality. It is a means to bring about a difference and vital improvements to a community. Planning helps maximize city and county budgets by prioritizing infrastructure investments, while balancing demands for growth with the need to protect the integrity of the community and environment. In addition, planning efforts involve the public, building necessary public support for infrastructure investment.

Planning documents such as Preliminary Engineering Reports (PERS), Capital Improvement Plans (CIPs), and Growth Policies evaluate and prioritize infrastructure needs. By prioritizing infrastructure needs, limited community funds are used most efficiently.   Planning is also required by many funding agencies when applying for construction grants/loans. Planning documents can include:

  • Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER)
  • Growth Policy
  • Preliminary Architecture Reports (PAR)
  • Parks and Recreation Plans
  • Capital Improvement Plans (CIP)
  • Downtown Master Plans
  • Bridge Inventory
  • Housing Plans

The cost of preparing these plans often presents a serious obstacle for many communities. Fortunately, there are a variety of opportunities to fund the development of these plans. Below is a brief outline of some funding opportunities available to develop plans.

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
    • Available for housing, public facility and economic development planning grants.
    • Eligibility: Counties, Cities, and Towns. water and sewer districts, unincorporated areas, and non-profit organizations.
    • Funding Limit: $50,000. The program requires a 1:3 match.
    • 2017 funding cycle opens early July 2017.
  • Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP)
    • Available for infrastructure planning including PERs and CIPs that address drinking water, wastewater, storm sewer, solid waste and/or bridges.
    • Eligibility: Counties, Cities, Towns, water, sewer or solid waste districts, tribal governments.
    • Funding Limit: $15,000. The program requires a 1:1 match.
    • 2017 funding cycle opens June 26, 2017.
  • DNRC Renewable Resource Grant and Loan (RRGL)
    • Available for projects that conserve, manage, develop, or protect renewable resources.
    • Eligibility: Counties, cities, towns, sewer and/or water and sewer districts, irrigation, and conservation districts.
      • DNRC funding limits: New PER: $15,000; New Technical Narratives: $10,000; PER and Technical Narrative Updates: $5,000; CIP, Growth Plans, or other plans: $5,000. If a governmental entity is applying on behalf of a private or NGO, a 25% match by the private or NGO is required.
      • 2017 funding cycle opens July 1, 2017.

There are additional opportunities including MDOC Big Sky Trust Fund, USDA Rural Development, Economic Development Administration, and private foundations that are available to assist communities with planning. This funding can help your communities take on planning projects which will lead to a wide range of infrastructure projects that will promote strong economies and communities, and ultimately create a high quality of life for your residents.

For more information on planning and funding opportunities, please contact Craig Erickson (cerickson@greatwesteng.com) or Elisa Prescott (eprescott@greatwesteng.com).