An ownership change of the Laramie Plains Civic Center, intended to make it easier to finding grant funding for the building, backfired in one instance last month after the Office of State Lands and Investments has determined the planned dissolution of the center’s joint powers board means the center is no longer eligible for a $278,063 grant from Wyoming’s five statewide elected officials who comprise the State Loan and Investment Board.
Local officials have been working for more than two years to transfer ownership of the civic center from a joint powers board to a nonprofit. The conveyance is intended to alleviate the Wyoming Attorney General’s concerns about a quasi-governmental entity having a mortgage, while also opening LPCC up to new grant opportunities only provided to nonprofits.
Albany County, on behalf of LPCC, applied in September for a Mineral Royalty Grant, which the state gives to cities, towns, counties, special districts and joint powers boards. The grants are intended to help governments alleviate emergency situations, provide “an essential public service,” or comply with federal or state mandates — like compliance with the American Disabilities Act of 1990.
ADA compliance was the reason for LPCC’s application, which sought to modernize the building’s sole elevator, installed in 1982 and prone to outages.
LPCC first applied for the grant earlier this year, but SLIB turned the application down in June.
At the time, Albany County’s government — not the joint powers board — applied for the grant because LPCC stakeholders hoped the conveyance and joint powers board dissolution might be completed by the time SLIB considered the application in June.
Inside, delays in the conveyance process — like awaiting IRS approval of the new nonprofit — means the joint powers board was still in existence at the time of the June meeting.
SLIB turned the application down over concerns that the applicant, Albany County, still had about $640,000 in approved SLIB grants that needed to be dispersed for ongoing projects.
About half of that sum was designated for the renovation of the Albany County Courthouse’s north entrance, which began this summer.
Because that courthouse funding is now being expended, the county assumed it would have a better shot for grant approval at SLIB’s upcoming January meeting.
Instead, Albany County Grants Manager Billie Vanlandingham said she received a call from Office of State Lands and Investments grant officer Sheila Palmer, who told her Albany County is not an eligible applicant for the grant because the government doesn’t own the building.
The joint powers board would be an eligible applicant, except that the board is almost guaranteed to be dissolved by the end of 2019.
County commissioners voted Tuesday for a withdrawal of the grant application, and Vanlandingham said she’ll work with LPCC staff on seeking other grant funding opportunities for the elevator renovations.