County officials hope to get grant monies from TxDOT

Howard County commissioners decided to spend some money now in the hopes of getting even more money in the near future.During their regular meeting Monday morning, commissioners unanimously voted to set aside $150,000 for legal and administrative fees to participate in the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program.During the most recent session of the Texas Legislature, the state senate appropriated $225 million in grants to be used by counties whose roads infrastructure had been adversely affected by the recent oil boom.County Judge Mark Barr said 200 Texas counties, including Howard, are eligible to apply for the grants, which will be administered by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).However, there's more involved in receiving the money than simply asking for it, Barr said.For starters, the county will have to establish a transportation district which would oversee how the grant money would be spent. And there are several other administrative hoops the county will have to jump through, such as documenting the need for the grant money, before any funds would find their way to Big Spring.Exactly how much money Howard County would be eligible to receive depends on a points system that takes into account heavy oilfield-related commercial traffic, the number of well completions within the county and how much the county pays in severance taxes, among other factors. The more points a county accrues, the more money it is eligible to receive.Also, Barr noted, it is possible that not all of the 200 targeted counties will decide to participate in the program, which could increase the availability of grant money.