Council says 'no' to county

City won't chip in for water or television

County commissioners cancelled their request to hold a joint meeting with the Craig City Council, but council members went ahead and held it without them. The result was a resounding "no" to requests commissioners discussed amongst themselves, but hadn't formally made to the council.

"I think we're all telling them the same thing and will do so at any future time," Councilor Bill Johnston said at Tuesday's council meeting.

Commissioners discussed at their Nov. 17 meeting asking the city to waive a portion of the $16,000 the county pays in water fees at the cemetery. The request was made as a way to ease the county's budget crunch. At the same meeting, county officials also considered asking the council to fund a portion of county-provided television service that gives residents access, by using an antenna on their television sets, to five channels including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and the local K27 FA television station.

Commissioners decided to ask the city to kick in and proposed a joint meeting to discuss the issues.

Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said the meeting was postponed because county officials "weren't ready yet."

"We wanted to see how the budget numbers fall," she said.

The commissioners are working to cut anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million from the 2004 budget.

A small part of the solution was hoped to be an agreement with the city for a break on water fees.

"We don't consider it a discount, we consider it a contribution to the cemetery from the city," Raftopoulos said.

The county has already lowered the $80,000 cost of providing television service to $58,000 and hoped a contribution from the city would decrease that number even more.

But that doesn't seem likely in light of Tuesday's council discussion.

Councilor Don Jones said the city's already losing nearly $1 million a year at the hands of the county and isn't willing to give more.

The city lost approximately $750,000 when the county diverted a portion of sales tax revenue to the construction of the Moffat County Public Safety Center, is down $30,000 to $50,000 because the county diverted its road and bridge department mill levy to its general fund and is now paying $160,000 to $180,000 a year in landfill fees that used to free in exchange for free water at some county facilities, including the cemetery.

"We've toed our line after losing more than $900,000 in revenue and now they asked for a discount," Jones said. "I don't agree with that. I think it's awfully one sided."

The opinion was unanimous among council members.

"It's still tax dollars, it just shifts the blame to us," Councilor Tom Gilchrist said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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