County cuts may not be as significant

March 31 marked the date that two county jobs and three county services were to be eliminated to balance the 2004 budget. But more than three months after the Moffat County Board of Commissioners enacted them, the budget cuts have played out in unusual ways.

Shadow Mountain Clubhouse and the Lutrell Barn will remain open, even though they had been scheduled to close on Wednesday. Maintenance payments for county television transformers will be transferred to K-27 owner Jerry Thompson, meaning rural residents will still receive TV signals.

It's likely that volunteers will pick up the work for the Maybell Ambulance that was performed by former Emergency Services Coordinator Karen Burley, and the commissioners are considering ways to fill the void created by the departure of Natural Resources Specialist Ann Franklin whose position was cut. "The cuts haven't been as significant as we anticipated," Commis-sioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.

The closure of Shadow Mountain was one of the more controversial cuts the commissioners proposed. Disabled county residents claimed Shadow Mountain's pool was the only place in the county where they could exercise.

The commissioners adopted a new payment system for the facility, and Commissioner Darryl Steele led the effort to raise money within the community to keep the building open. The Memorial Hospital, the Kiwanis Club, the Craig City Council, the Moffat County School District and Rehabilitation Services of Craig all donated money to keep the building open.

Steve Grandbouche, Moffat County Parks and Recreation director, developed a new fee structure that would keep the Lutrell Barn open for the duration of 2004. However, the status of both facilities will be reevaluated at the end of the year, Commissioner Les Hampton said.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the commissioners and Jerry Thomspon reached a verbal agreement on the county's transmitters. Until County Attorney Kathleen Taylor finishes drawing leases for the transmitters, the county will pass maintenance bills along to Thompson.

After the county eliminated the Maybell ambulance director's position, Raftopoulos said one individual volunteered to provide day coverage in Maybell, and two ambulance members have volunteered to cover administrative duties. When Burley's job was cut, many Maybell residents worried they would lose daytime emergency coverage because most Maybell Ambulance volunteers work outside of Maybell.

The Moffat County Land Use Board and the commissioners have been considering a variety of options to continue the work Ann Franklin did as Natural Resources specialist. Their first choice is to use grants to fund a part-time position for an employee to implement the fire plan, work on sage grouse planning and the Dinosaur National Monument grazing plan, among other responsibilities.

If it isn't possible to fund that position, the commissioners might divide the work among other county employees, possibly having an extension agent and a sheriff's deputy work on implementing the fire plan.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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