It’s been a productive month for CFM’s federal affairs team that included landing $15 million in federal grants for Oregon clients, freeing up funds for local law enforcement patrols and $400 million for bus replacements and bus facilities in the omnibus spending package. CFM maintains a full-time Washington, DC presence and represents mostly Pacific Northwest clients.
Mill City won a highly competitive $8.1 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to repair and renovate the North Santiam River Bridge, a critical component of the Mill City Downtown Restoration and Revitalization Project. It was the only TIGER grant awarded in Oregon and just one of 41 granted nationwide.
TIGER grant applications require exhaustingly complex 30-page applications with benefit cost analysis and a variety of technical and narrative requirements. These applications can be daunting for small communities, which is where CFM entered the picture on behalf of Marion County.
“In the post-earmark era in Congress, federal grant applications are the only way for many communities to secure funding for infrastructure projects,” explains CFM’s Michael Skipper. “We apply our experience in writing grants and add advocacy to help our clients compete successfully.”
Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron said, “This project is a great opportunity not only for Mill City, but the entire region.”
CFM efforts also contributed to capturing $6.5 million for two Oregon transit agencies from the extremely competitive federal Bus and Bus Facility grant program administered by the Federal Transit Administration. Salem-Keizer Transit will be able to purchase six replacement buses for its fleet and Rogue Valley Transit District will buy seven replacement buses and create a Transit Signal Priority system to enhance bus operation efficiency.
"This funding will help ensure we meet our community's evolving needs for mobility and connectivity," said Robert Krebs, president of the Salem Area Mass Transit District's Board of Directors.
“CFM has a demonstrated history of success in pursuing funding from this program, securing a total of five awards for its three transit clients in the last two rounds,” says CFM’s Kirby Garrett.
Representing The Bus Coalition, CFM and its Capitol Hill champions lobbied successfully for an additional $400 million in FY 2018 for federal bus formula and grant funding programs, including $161 million for replacement bus and bus facility (BBF) grants.
“The current BBF round is oversubscribed by 10 to 1, with $2.5 billion in requests for $227 million in available funding,” says CFM’s Joel Rubin. “This lack of federal funding has been steadily eroding the state of good repair of the nation’s bus fleet and supporting facilities. Between 2009 and 2016, the number of transit buses operating past their 12-year useful increased nearly 40 percent and the number of buses operating more than 15 years increased by a staggering 92 percent.”
Perhaps the biggest rabbit extraction from the hat managed by CFM was securing a technical correction in the omnibus spending package that will allow Marion County to use $500,000 in available federal funds for law enforcement patrols and emergency response.
The correction, which CFM urged on behalf of Marion County, was necessary after the Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2012 strictly limiting expenditures under Secure Rural Schools Title III provisions. Prior to that, the County was allowed to use funding from Title III to patrol on US Forest Service land.
“This was a hard battle and, frankly, a pleasant surprise,” Rubin said. “The Oregon congressional delegation deserves a lot of credit for seeking a legislative solution that will help struggling rural Oregon communities.”