Sunday, May 25, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

And that is exactly what I've been doing. For the past two weeks I have been buried in work. 

About a month ago, my Board of Directors wished me to fill out an application for the IRS to change our company's status to Non-Profit. One of our Members had filed an extension on our taxes, saying we had to wait for our tax preparer to be less busy after tax season; the reason I mention this is that the application required the finances for the current year, and the previous three years. So in order to complete it, I needed our 2013 taxes. And I have never done corporate taxes before, and I honestly believe it's best for a CPA to do them. About two weeks ago, I got a notice from the IRS saying they had rejected our application for extension. I automatically called our accountant and was informed that the deadline for corporate taxes was March 15th. The Board Member didn't mail the extension in until April. *sigh* I then asked her about doing our taxes and mentioned I was told we had to wait until she wasn't as busy with tax season. She seemed a bit confused about that. The next day I got her the information she needed. A week later she called to say they were done. I picked them up, got ahold of said Board Member to sign them and I will take them back on Tuesday for them to be submitted. Now, here's the thing: apparently last fall, a board member and the previous office gal had submitted a grant application to the California Department of Public Health, for planning funds (for upgrading our 60 year old system). The CDPH will not award funds to a For-Profit company. This Board Member knew about this for the past 6 months or so, and has been twiddling his thumbs and sitting on his ass. I show up and have it completed rather quickly, especially once the taxes were done.

Before this whole fiasco, I had typed up all the answers into a Word document so that I could copy and paste my answers into the form online and then print it out so that I could send it in. Now, pause this application for just a moment.

Also, two and a half weeks ago, Boyfriend asked me to go to a seminar that he couldn't make it to, regarding planning and funding. I agreed to go, believing it would be a snooze-fest. Oddly enough, it wasn't and it was super helpful on top of it. I learned of a grant that our company could apply for. As a For-Profit company (still), we are very limited in grant funding; only one agency will even consider it. And as it happens, this is one that did. Unfortunately, it was due in two weeks. I have never written a grant before, so this was going to be fun.

For two weeks, I have thought of nothing but this grant. I decided to not work on the Non-Profit application until the grant was finished. I had hour long phone calls with a gal who was my contact for assistance with the grant as she answered my questions and explained things. I lived and breathed this thing. Holy shit those things are hard! And this was a fairly "easy" one. I spent hours putting together supplemental documents and trying to track down agencies that would write a letter of support at the last minute. The grant was from Prop 84 funding for drought preparedness. As most know, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency due to the extremely dry winter we had. And previous not-so-went winters as well. Our little water company needs money to install meters on our customers. At the rate we can afford, we might be able to install two meters a month. That would take us a minimum of 6 years to complete. Our customers are on a flat rate for "unlimited" water and we have no way to enforce conservation. Our well production numbers are declining and we had to turn on the river pump a least two months earlier than normal to meet customer demand. Should this drought continue, it's possible our wells will start drying up and if the river  is too low, we won't be able to use it, either. We'd be up Shit Creek without a paddle. Hell, without a raft as well. We'd just be in Shit Creek. Installing meters is a very important first step for us - once we have meters, we can do a proper rate study to see how much water each household is using, come up with a new billing system, and we can enforce conservation. With grant funding, we could have all the meters installed in just a few months.

Last Monday, I got a call from a Board Member that he would like to take the Non-Profit application down to our contact at the Department of Public Health Drinking Water in Redding for review before sending it to the IRS. He was going to Redding on Friday and would like it done before then.


I juggled the two for the week. On Thursday, I finished up the Non-Profit application and made copies of all required documents that had to be sent in. After lunch, I worked the rest of the day on finishing up the grant application. I wanted to send it in early, in case there were any issues. The deadline was 5pm on the 26th, which for those of us in the States is a Federal Holiday - Memorial Day. The gal I needed to email it to (the gal whom I had been in contact with) wouldn't be at the office. Just before 8:30pm on Thursday, I emailed the grant in.

I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I hadn't realized just how stressed I had been for two weeks. I actually cried a little. And I was suddenly very tired.

Friday morning my grant contact called me and said we needed to fix a couple things. I fixed (hopefully) the issues and emailed it back to her.

Our contact at the Department of Health Drinking Water emailed me Friday to let me know that at a cursory glance the Non-Profit application looked good.

It's now out of my hands.

Talk about acquiring new job skills. I can now add grant writer to the list of things I can do.

I've learned that with this job, it's sink or swim baby. Deep end only. No shallow end and no kiddie pool.

My grant application. At least an inch thick.

The Non-Profit application. Right around an inch thick. On top is an "expedite letter" so that hopefully by telling them the one thing holding up grant funding is out status.

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