Horizons has city's support

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Horizons Specialized Services has the Craig City Council's support on a ballot question that would levy 1 mill for services to those with mental retardation in Moffat County.

The Council voted unanimously Tuesday on a resolution supporting the attempt.

Horizons board member Don Ross attended the Aug. 23 council meeting asking for support, but found council members were concerned about setting a precedent for similar requests.

Doubts lingered Tuesday night.

"This is a tough one for me," Councilor Kent Nielson said. "I know how I feel about human service organizations and Horizons specifically, but I'm a little torn."

He asked staff members whether the city has supported a referendum that wasn't a benefit to the entire community.

City Attorney Kenneth Wohl couldn't say whether the council would be approached by another group with a similar request.

"If it's a setting a precedent, it's a very benign one," Councilor Terry Carwile said. "There's nothing that prohibits the council from evaluating each request on its merits."

Mayor Don Jones said a decision was delayed because he thought he didn't have enough information to make a decision. Since then, he thinks his questions have been answered.

Voters will decide in November whether to appropriate a mill to Horizons, which would net the organization $390,000 a year. Moffat County's Horizons provides full-time care and day activities to nearly 70 clients. The organization serves a five-county area, but has group homes in only two of those counties. It also is asking for a mill in Routt County.

Jones was concerned about the number of nonresidents the mill levy would help support. Of the organizations 30 full-time clients, 13 are from other counties.

Horizons director Susan Mizen said several of those residents have lived in Moffat County for 20 years -- coming in the mid-1980s as part of the state's effort to eliminate institutional care for people with mental retardation. The decision to accept several residents -- and the state funding that accompanied them -- bolstered a local program that was foundering, Mizen said.

"Without those people who were de-institutionalized, we wouldn't have the programs we have to serve Moffat County residents," she said.

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