PROJECT GRANTS

As a result of the 2021 Legislative session, the Treasure Statement Endowment Program (TSEP) name has been changed to the Montana Coal Endowment Program (MCEP). Documents will contain the previous name until a public hearing has been held to update the Administrative Rules of Montana.


The Montana Coal Endowment Program (MCEP) provides funding assistance for drinking water, wastewater, storm sewer or storm drain, solid waste, and bridge projects. The funding for the program comes from revenues earned on interest from Coal Severance Taxes.

The program makes awards to cities, towns, counties, and districts to replace aged collection or distribution systems, newly construct or repair treatment facilities, and repair or replace bridges. Program awards are focused on addressing health and safety problems and financial needs of applicants.  

Grant and Match Requirements

Applicants must provide matching funds of at least dollar for dollar of the amount requested from the program.

Maximum grant amount available is $750,000, $625,000 or $500,000 dependent on user rates being charged in the project area. Please see the Applying for Grants page for more discussion on rates versus amount of award available. Bridge projects are generally limited to $500,000.

Eligible Project Expenses

Eligible project expenses are those that are project related and incurred after the project award is authorized by the Legislature. Some examples of typical costs reimbursed for by the program are: engineering designs and inspection, grant administration, surveying or geotechnical, and construction. This list is not all inclusive.

Application Review and Award

The Department reviews and ranks applications received by the application due date in even numbered years and submits funding recommendations to the Governor. The Governor reviews the Department’s recommendations and submits the recommendations to the Legislature as part of the Governor's budget for the upcoming Biennium. The Legislature makes the final decision about which applications are funded and makes the necessary funding appropriations.

Eligible Projects

Montana Coal Endowment Program (MCEP) grants are available on a competitive basis for issues related to health & safety and financial need impacting local governments across the state for projects that complete significant improvements to drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, or storm sewer systems in a single project, or multiple bridges at one time are eligible.

Phased projects are eligible, but must demonstrate significant health and safety improvements to be completed within each phase being ‘stand alone’ and able to ensure that substantive improvements and public health and safety benefit from the project without additional funds.

  • Drinking water systems
  • Wastewater treatment facilities
  • Sanitary or storm sewer systems
  • Solid waste disposal & separation systems
  • Bridges

Eligible Applicants

Montana Coal Endowment Program (MCEP) grants are available to the following entities:

  • Incorporated cities and towns
  • Counties
  • Consolidated governments
  • Tribal governments
  • County or multi-county water, sewer, or solid waste districts
  • An authority as defined in 75-6-304, MCA

For more information related to who can apply for a MCEP grant, refer to the MCEP Application Guidelines located on the Application Forms page.

Applications are only accepted every other year, since funding for MCEP projects is approved by the legislature. Applications are due in the spring of even numbered years. To apply, an applicant must include all information required by application instructions. The Department reserves the right to reject ineligible, incomplete, or otherwise improper applications.


Grant Amounts

Construction grant applications are limited to a maximum of $750,000, $625,000 or $500,000. These maximums are established by user rates being charged in the project location. In order to qualify for the maximum of $750,000, the applicant’s user rates must be at least 150% of the community’s “target rate” (based upon the projected monthly rates with MCEP assistance) upon completion of a proposed water, wastewater project, storm sewer, or solid waste project.

If the user rates are projected to be between 125% and 150% of the community’s “target rate,” applicants are eligible to apply for no more than $625,000.

Applicants whose user rates are less than 125% of the community’s “target rate” are limited to a maximum of $500,000.

Bridge projects are limited to a maximum of $500,000, unless it is clearly demonstrated that extenuating circumstances exist.


Required Match

A dollar-for-dollar match is required, and can be other public or private funds (cash, loans, and other grants). In cases of extreme financial hardship, where the public's health and safety are seriously affected, grants up to 75% of the project costs may be awarded.


Components of an Application

  • Preliminary Engineering Report
  • Uniform Application
  • Responses to MCEP Statutory Priorities
  • Completion of Environmental Review
  • Applications are limited to one applicant, one project per funding cycle.

The MCEP Application Guidelines provide detailed information about requirements of the program and lists information required in the application. The application form and preliminary engineering report requirements are in the Uniform Application for Montana Public Facility Projects.

Prospective applicants should contact MCEP staff as soon as possible to discuss their project and the application requirements.


Application Process

Montana Coal Endowment Program (MCEP) grant applications are accepted in the spring of even numbered years. Prospective applicants should contact MCEP staff as early as possible to discuss their proposed project and program requirements. In general, projects that solve serious health and safety threats, and have a serious financial need are likely to be more competitive and ranked higher than other proposed projects.

Application Review and Award

Department staff reviews MCEP grant applications for impacts to health and safety, financial need, technical design and the extent to which the proposed project relates to each of the seven statutory priorities set forth in Section 90-6-7, MCA. Commerce will rank applications received according to the definitions in the priorities. Applications are reviewed and ranked during the summer of even numbered years. Bridge projects are reviewed and ranked only against other bridge projects. Commerce will provide two lists of recommendation to the Governor – one list containing bridge projects, and one list containing infrastructure projects.

In consideration of the Department’s recommendations, the Governor makes a funding recommendation to the Legislature as part of the Governor’s budget for the upcoming Biennium. The Legislature makes the final decision about which applications are funded and makes the necessary funding appropriations.

If the Legislature recommends the project for funding, MCEP staff will contact project contacts to transition into carrying out and the administration of your grant.


Application Forms

The MCEP Application Guidelines provide the information needed to apply for a MCEP construction grant. Projects applying for a MCEP construction grant, also need to complete the Uniform Application For Montana Public Facility Projects.

NOTE:  One hard copy and one electronic copy (either on compact disc or submitted through the State of Montana File Transfer Service at DOCCDDFTS@mt.gov [as State Group]) of the application must be postmarked (or delivered to the Department of Commerce, 301 South Park Ave, Helena MT) by the application due date. Electronic copies submitted on portable USB drives are discouraged

  • 2023 Biennium TSEP Application and Guidelines (PDF) (Word)
  • Uniform Application For Montana Public Facility Projects (PDF)
  • PER Outline (PDF)
  • PER Outline - Bridges (PDF)
  • Target Rate Analysis Information (PDF)
  • Application Submission Guidance Presentation (PDF)

MCEP provides a project administration manual to help grantees complete all required documentation and steps to successfully implement your grants. Recipients of MCEP financial assistance are responsible for administering their projects in accordance with all applicable state statutory and regulatory requirements.

When a project is awarded a MCEP grant, all grantees representatives will be assigned a MCEP specialist that they will work closely with throughout the process to complete project activities. The MCEP specialist will assist you in carrying out all activities related to the project. Including, but not limited to, contracting, reimbursements, plans and specifications review, carrying out bidding procedures, pre-construction meeting, working with the selected construction contractor, and completion of the project and reporting.

Start-Up Conditions

Each grantee can incur reimbursable project costs as of the authorized date in its Notice of Award letter. Those costs will be eligible for reimbursement once the grantee meets all start-up conditions and executes a contract with the Department. Start-up conditions include: 

  1. Finalizing the Project Budget
  2. Finalizing the Project Implementation Schedule
  3. Obtaining Firm Commitment of Other Funding Sources
  4. Completing a Management Plan
  5. Demonstrating compliance with financial reporting and audit completions with the Department of Administration
  6. Updating the Environmental Review, if necessary (Typically, this has already been completed at time of application, but if a project has had any changes, the review may need to be revisited. Contact us.)
  7. Finalize the MCEP Contract

Project expenses eligible to be reimbursed by MCEP funds include any reasonable and authorized expenses directly related to the eligible infrastructure project and incurred after the project has been awarded through the legislative process and signed into law by the Governor.

Grant Contract

The process of finalizing the contract will include finalizing the project budget and implementation schedule and incorporating the scope of work to be completed by the grantee. The grantee’s application for MCEP grant funds, as approved by the Department and/or the Legislature, is incorporated by reference into the contract and the representations made therein are binding upon the Grantee.

The MCEP Project Administration Manual provides detailed guidance on how to administer a MCEP grant from completing start-up conditions, expending funds, and closing the project. All MCEP requirements that need to be completed are contained within this manual to assist all grantees in completing a successful project that ensure compliance with state regulations. MCEP staff are here to help grantees navigate the program through direct technical assistance and through the guidance provided in the MCEP project administration manual. 

The MCEP Project Administration Manual is organized in two chapters:

Chapter 1: Project start up requirements and contracting with Commerce

Chapter 2: Project management to include: budgets and modifications, eligible expenses, requests for reimbursement, tracking spreadsheets, and discussion of regulations and laws that will apply to each MCEP project.

2023 Biennium TSEP Project Administration Manual (PDF)

2021 Biennium TSEP Project Administration Manual (PDF)

2019 Biennium TSEP Project Administration Manual (PDF)

The below templates are used throughout a MCEP project to provide project management assistance related to the MCEP specific project. These forms will assist grantees in tracking project costs, supplying information to Commerce for reimbursements, reporting progress and completion activities.


Commitment of Non-TSEP Funds (PDF)

Management Plan (Word)

Interlocal Agreement (Word)

Request for Reimbursement Form (Excel)

Project Progress Report (Word)

Signature Certification Form (Word)

Designation of Depository (Word)

Uniform Status of Funds (Excel)

Uniform Invoice Tracking (Excel)

Project Completion Report (Word)

Project Budget (Excel)

Implementation Schedule (Word)

The toolkit information provides best practices, common topics and technical assistance for grantees. The templates to complete the processes described here can be found at the Commonly Used Forms page.

TSEP Grant Administration Chapter 1 (PDF)

TSEP Grant Administration Chapter 2 (PDF)

Procurement Presentation (PDF)

Environmental Review Presentation (PDF)

Request for Reimbursement Presentation (PDF)

Involving the Public Presentation (PDF)