Council considers funding requests

Poorly timed questions could spark new policy

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In the one month since the Craig City Council set its 2004 budget, it has entertained requests for more than $10,000 in funding -- unbudgeted.

It's a trend that's got to stop, council members said, and they discussed taking a hard line against funding requests that come outside of the budgeting process.

At its Tuesday night meeting, City Manager Jim Ferree passed on a request from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association for $5,000 to be used for a flight subsidy program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

The request, though preliminary, sparked discussion about how the city handles unbudgeted funding requests.

In dealing with the same issues in 2001, the City Council, with the help of Corrie Scott, director of Moffat County United Way, established the Human Resources Council. The city and county both fund to the Human Resources Council and any organization seeking money is directed there.

The idea was to remove the City Council from the position of evaluating requests from an agency or organization whose purpose it wasn't familiar with.

The concept worked at first, Councilor Bill Johnston said, but the city is seeing a resurgence of the same requests the HRC was formed to circumvent.

"We're heading right down the road we were headed before we formed the HRC," he said.

Councilor Tom Gilchrist suggested that the Steamboat chamber's request be funneled through the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership.

"We hired Tom Flavin (the partnership's director) for this, we ought to use him," he said.

Johnston, the council's economic development partnership liaison, said he wasn't sure the EDP was either equipped or prepared to take on that type of role.

"I'm not sure the EDP was built for that, nor is it mature enough for that," he said.

Another suggestion was that the request be directed to the HRC, like others are.

"Let's funnel all requests through one agency instead of going through three different agencies," Councilor Don Jones said. "It's the same pot of money."

Ferree said the council did have the option of saying no to any requests made outside of the budget process in the fall.

"You could say 'we've approved our budget, we're done,'" he said. "It would make it a lot easier for us."

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

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