Accessing State Funds
In the recent economy, municipal leaders are finding themselves in a struggle to balance budgets, fund improvements, and still provide the high-quality services that taxpayers demand. As a result, municipal leaders are often teased (or tormented) by the numerous funding announcements that are dangled like a carrot for all eligible communities. It seems like every day a new grant is announced and communities find themselves asking “How can we win that money?”
The key to successfully securing any grant is being prepared and ready when the funds are announced.
A Comprehensive Plan is an essential tool to enhance a community’s ability to take action.
Step 1 in Accessing State Funds: Envision It
In order to advance any planning project, one must not only know the small details associated with the project, but how it fits into the big picture or community vision. A community’s vision is crafted based upon its understanding of the positive and negative attributes, as well as the significant issues that need to be overcome to achieve long-term success.
During a typical planning process, a community begins by completing an inventory of its many resources. The level of detail of these resources may vary from community to community. However, what is important to understand are the assets and liabilities of each community. Strategies are developed to build upon the identified opportunities and to eliminate the known constraints. Often, design solutions are generated to help public and private partners visualize the longterm outcome of future development. Visualization helps create great design, guide future development and shape our communities.
Step 2 in Accessing State Funds: Plan It
Reach for the stars, not the universe. The planning process is built upon a series of steps designed to help communities understand their identities. It is through this understanding that municipal leaders are enabled to make strong decisions based on the detailed research of the Comprehensive Plan. Understanding how each community wants to grow or change over the next 10 or 15 years will significantly affect the decisions that are made by town officials. This vision is often outlined in a series of goals and actions to be implemented over time. While all of these goals and actions will not be achieved overnight, there should be a mix of short- and long-term goals to keep the plan on track. Achievable short-term goals are an extremely important part of implementation to
allow a community to see their vision come to fruition. Actions that can be completed in 60 days of adopting a plan can build momentum amongst community members to ensure the plan never sits on a shelf. When planning, take a hard look at the best practices in the field of land use and look to incorporate those components into your community plan. Today, large sums of grant funds
are dedicated to green technology, sustainable development and sharing services. It is very important to make sure that the programs for which you seek funding are mentioned and supported in your planning document.
Step 3 in Accessing State Funds: Implement It
So what does it take to implement your plan? In short: leadership, commitment and resources. Successfully implemented plans have leaders that have mastered the “four ‘A’s” of implementation: Assess, Assign, Activate, Accomplish.