ILC may stop housing voucher program

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At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Signed a mineral lease with the Durango Pipeline Co. for 320 acres north of Lay. The lease meets the county's regular terms of $110 an acre for three years with a three-sixteenths royalty on production.

• Waived the bid process for bridge pilings for a bridge on County Road 17, south of Lay. The bridge is down to one useable lane, which Bill Mack, Road and Bridge Department director, said constituted a timing emergency and recommended the Commission forego normal bidding procedures.

Linda DeRose, Road and Bridge manager, said the department asked three local steel vendors for project quotes. Two companies returned estimates and the department selected the low bid submitted by Elkhead Steel, totaling $10,150.

• Tabled awarding a bid for a Road and Bridge tractor mower. Department officials said none of the bids returned met required specifications, and they wanted some time to review the equipment.

• Awarded a bid for a new fishing dock at Loudy-Simpson Park for the county Parks and Recreation Department. The dock project went to Mountain States Recreation, that provided the low bid, for $13,975.

• Tabled awarding a bid for Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena heaters for Parks and Recreation. The Commission decided to investigate pricing.

— Evelyn Tileston, Independent Life Center executive director, said she didn't like appearing before the Moffat County Commission for this reason, but the problem forced itself.

"The Independent Life Center is at a point where we cannot afford to provide the section 8 vouchers anymore," Tileston said. "We're to the point where this program costs the Independent Life Center $1,000 to $1,300 a month in shortfall, and we just cannot afford to do that."

She and Marlena O'Leary, Life Center housing coordinator, asked the Commission to subsidize the program. Without extra funding, Life Center will cease carrying the program.

Administration costs are too high for the Life Center to continue its section 8 program as is, the two women said.

Section 8 vouchers allow low-income, disabled, elderly and other residents to afford decent housing, Tileston said.

"This is a burden on 88 families that don't know if they'll have a roof over their head," she said. "If the city or county can help us, there'll be 88 families that line up to thank them."

Commissioner Saed Tayyara said he felt for the families involved, but the county is not in a position to take on extra programs now.

"The hardship is coming in a couple of years when Colowyo mine goes south," he said, referring to the mine's planned move to Rio Blanco County by 2011. Based on 2007 property valuations, the counts stands to lose about $1.7 million in property taxes because of the move.

Tayyara said the county also has to take a stand against federal and state authorities leaning on county governments to fund federal and state programs.

"What's disturbing is" Housing and Urban Development, he said. "The predicament is right here, right now, where HUD doesn't understand the need in different areas.

"There is a point where we have to say enough is enough."

Commissioner Tom Mathers offered to look into some of the county budget for extra funds. Tayyara supported the effort, but said the county could not promise anything.

Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said Tileston is on the City Council's April 22 agenda, but city officials have not been able to discuss the issue.

There are 88 families with vouchers, and another 100 on the waiting list, Tileston said.

If the program is canceled, those families still would retain their vouchers, but the program would end with them.

Moffat County would receive no more vouchers, Tileston said, and no other persons or families would be able to apply for vouchers to live in the county.

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