CREEDE—During the Mineral County Commissioners meeting on Monday, Dec. 4, Commissioner Chairwoman Ramona Weber gave an update pertaining to the Secure Rural Schools funding that was not authorized for 2017. The funding comes on an annual basis and is split between the county and the school to help with expenses related to the school including the upkeep of roads and other projects.
Every year, the county receives Secure Rural Schools funding which is then split between the county road and bridge department and the school through negotiations conducted by both county and school officials. Both entities have relied on the funding in the past to make up for the shortage of government funding coming through both the road and bridge and educational federal programs.
Weber explained that there is a possibility the act would not be authorized for a second year in 2018 and that the funding would once again be unavailable. The Secure Rural Schools Act helps fund schools in rural communities that are dependent on the funding due to recent cuts made in the education department. Communities like Creede have seen the funding decrease little by little throughout the last few years, beginning in 2015 until it was completely cut off in April of this year.
If Congress does not reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools Act, funding that sustains rural schools and rural communities could be gone, and the national forests could be logged or sold to replace the lost revenue. Several Valley schools are dealing with the negative impacts resulting from the funding being cut for the 2017 fiscal year and fear what may happen if it is not reinstated for 2018.
Weber continued, stating that local government officials in the legislature are in support of having the funding continue, while those that represent more eastern communities that don’t rely on the funding as much as communities like Creede, were looking to have it removed for good.
Weber explained that Colorado Counties, Inc. will be working with local governments to make sure their need of the funding is understood before the issue reaches legislature and that tax payers can write officials to voice support of the funding to rural communities.
“We need to make them understand how important this funding is to communities like ours and make sure that it stays for future use,” finished Weber.