The following is an excerpt from TxDOT’s recently released Q&A document. To read the full version, go to http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/energy/sb1747/frequently-asked-questions.pdf.
Q: What is the deadline for accepting the grant funding?
A: The rules do not specify a date by which the agreement must be executed. Counties can begin incurring costs on the date they received their notice of grant award letter. However, they cannot receive reimbursement until they have executed an agreement. They cannot begin construction prior to receiving TxDOT authorization to commence construction on the individual project. TxDOT will not authorize construction until an agreement is signed and the required certifications are received from the county.
Q: Is there a deadline for completing projects?
A: There is not a specified deadline for completing projects under this program. Counties must start all projects on their project list within three years of signing the agreement or execute an amendment to their Agreement with TxDOT allowing a reasonable period for the county to start the project after the three years have expired.
Q: Is it true that TxDOT is going to sweep the project funding for any work that isn’t completed 18 months after award?
A: No. The rules allow the Executive Director to prohibit a county from participating in the program if the county has not complied with one or more material requirements of the rules until such time as the Executive Director determines that the county has complied, or to remove a project from participation in the program if work on the project is not begun within three years after the date of the Agreement or within another reasonable period that is agreed to by TxDOT and the county. Proper notice to the county is required as defined in the rules.
Processing Agreement and County Signature Authority
Q: Are the terms and conditions of the agreement negotiable?
A: TxDOT has 191 county programs to oversee. So, it’s necessary to have a standard agreement with all counties. For this reason, terms and conditions of the agreement are not negotiable.
Q: Is there an example resolution for authorizing county employee signature for the program?
A: No, TxDOT does not have an example resolution. It should be a resolution by the Commissioners Court approving execution of the Agreement with TxDOT and authorizing a representative of the county to execute the Agreement. It is recommended (but not required) that in the same resolution, the Commissioners Court authorizes one or more persons to sign invoices, certifications, etc. related to the Agreement. Designating one or more persons to represent the county in signing those items is a required submittal to TxDOT within 30 days of the Agreement being executed. The County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and the Texas Association of Counties have created a sample, available at http://www.county.org/magazine/newsandcolumns/Pages/April%202014/TAC-and-CJCA-Hold-County-Transportation-Infrastructure-Fund-Grants-Program-Webinar.aspx
Q: What if my county attorney advises me that your agreement template violates statutory indemnification of county governments?
A: Please notify the TxDOT district point of contact for your county so that we may arrange a teleconference between your county attorney and our attorney responsible for drafting the standard agreement.
Q: How does a county create a List of Transportation Infrastructure Projects if there is no combination of projects in the Prioritized Project List submitted by the county in its application that can result in a total project cost that matches the county’s award amount from TxDOT plus its matching funds?
A: The county can accomplish this by reducing the scope or limits of one or more projects (thereby reducing the estimated cost) to meet the total of the TxDOT award amount plus the county’s matching funds. Once the projects are underway and actual costs are known, the project list can be amended as needed.
Q: Why does the award amount from TxDOT in the Notice of Award letter not match the amount the county requested?
A: The County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program had an allotted dollar amount of
$224.5 million to be distributed amongst eligible county applicants. In early 2014, TxDOT sent a notice to all 254 counties in the state. This letter included an estimated grant allocation amount based on the statutorily required allocation formula, with the assumption that all 254 counties applied for grants and were eligible. The Commission approved a program call for March 7-14, 2014, and the Department received applications from counties for grants under the program. The Department received 191 applications.
Since 191 counties did apply, 63 counties chose not to participate in the program and seek a grant. The 63 counties choosing not to apply originally had an estimated allocation of approximately
$22 million. The adopted rules limited the allocation for each county to the lesser of the amount requested in its application, or its share of the available funds (based upon the statutorily required allocation formula). Therefore, upon receiving no applications from
63 counties, that $22 million was reallocated amongst the 191 eligible applicant counties in accordance with the rules. This resulted in an average increase of approximately 10 percent to counties that requested more than their original estimated amount (as indicated by TxDOT in early January). It appears that many more counties applied than some might have anticipated, resulting in fewer dollars being available for reallocation amongst grant recipients — and grant awards being only slightly higher (approximately 10 percent average) than the original minimum allocations per county estimated by TxDOT.
Q: When the counties are ready to execute agreements, what is the process?
A: The PDF of the Agreement is on the website (http://www.txdot.gov/government/funding/county-fund.html). This PDF allows information to be typed into the document where appropriate. The current version (dated April 1, 2014* in the footer) includes the addition of the TxDOT “Notice” information in paragraph 19, four information fields to the upper right corner of the attachments and a dollar sign ($) in two locations on Attachment B. The county should obtain information for the fields in the top right corner of each page (Contract #, District #, Code Chart 64 # and project) from the TxDOT district point of contact.
The county is to prepare the Agreement by inserting the county name on the first page; the county “Notice” information needs to be inserted in paragraph 19; the resolution will need to be attached as Attachment A upon approval by Commissioners Court; and the county name, grant award amount and county matching fund amount need to be inserted on Attachment B. The grant award amount and county matching fund amount for each county are available at the same website. The county matching fund amount is calculated by taking the grant award amount (included in Notice of Award letter received from TxDOT) and dividing it by 90 percent (if the county is economically disadvantaged) or 80 percent (if the county is not economically disadvantaged) to calculate the total project costs, then subtracting the grant award amount. As an example, a county that is not classified as economically disadvantaged received a grant award of $100,000 from TxDOT. The county matching fund amount will be ($100,000/0.80) – $100,000 = $25,000. All entries into the Agreement described in this paragraph should be made electronically and not hand-written.
Upon completion of these items, the county should submit an electronic copy to the TxDOT district point of contact for review. Upon TxDOT district concurrence with the Agreement, the county may submit the Agreement to Commissioners Court for approval and authorization to execute. Upon execution by the county and inclusion of the resolution from Commissioners Court as Attachment A, two executed originals of the Agreement should be submitted to the TxDOT district point of contact. Upon receipt, the district will verify the Agreements are complete. When they are ready for TxDOT signature, the district will forward the two original Agreements to the Contract Services Office (CSO) for review and execution. Upon execution CSO will retain one executed original (as Office of Record) and return the other original to the district. Copies should be retained in the district files and one original forwarded to the county for its files. H