GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. — Garfield County is expecting to receive $226,979 in National Forest Reserve payments for the year 2020. The funds, which are an increase of $2,717 from the prior year, are designed to benefit local public schools and public county roads that run through national forests, as well as emergency services, such as search and rescue, law enforcement and fire services.
Also referred to as the Secure Rural Schools Act, the federal revenue sharing program is funded by leases and timber receipts from national forests located within the counties.
Historically, Garfield County has opted to grant 100 percent of what could be allocated to the road and bridge fund to local public schools. Three representatives of both the local school districts and the county form a panel each year to determine how those funds will be distributed. County representatives include Commissioner Mike Samson, County Manager Kevin Batchelder and Finance Director Theresa Wagenman.
The funding is statutorily allocated into Title I ($209,708) and Title III ($17,270) categories, of which the former is envisioned as a minimum of 25 percent for the county’s road and bridge fund and another 25 percent to local public schools, and the latter for emergency services.
“We do have some regulations on how those funds can be spent,” Wagenman explained. “We can elect to allocate less than 25 percent share and redirect those funds to the school districts within the county.”
The Title III funds are being deposited into the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office emergency management operating budget. The formation of the county and school district panel to determine the Title I allocations was approved unanimously, 3-0.