Yampa Valley Partners deals with funding loss

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Yampa Valley Partners is seeking interested residents for a position on the group's board and to participate with its projects. For more information, call board president Russ Martin at 276-3741, or email him at rmartin@hayden-co...

Although government support for Yampa Valley Partners has declined recently - ending with the Routt County Commission's total withdrawal this year - the group intends to continue services.

The Routt and Moffat County commissions once gave the group $20,000 a year, until 2007, when each reduced their funding to $10,000.

Earlier this year, the Routt County Commission ended its funding for the foreseeable future.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she and her colleagues thought other organizations in their county do similar work and did not want to fund different groups doing the same things.

Routt County also is in the middle of cutting $3.9 million from its budget, Stahoviak said.

"Sales tax is not coming in the way we anticipated it, and our finance director does not expect 2009 will be any better," she said. "The biggest difficulties we have seen are in our Road and Bridge Department in the rising cost of oil, the cost of gas, the cost of chip seals and the cost of asphalt."

The Moffat County Commission has yet to finalize its budget, and likely is weeks away from discussing funding to outside groups.

Like Routt County, Moffat County officials expect a 5 percent loss in revenue next year. However, the reduction is the result of Colowyo Mine moving operations to Rio Blanco County and low prices for natural gas, both of which affect local property taxes.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said he supports Yampa Valley Partners, but he could not make a commitment to the group now.

A setback, but not done

Audrey Danner, Yampa Valley Partners executive director, said her board plans to continue its services despite its funding setback. The most discouraging issue, she added, is losing Routt County as a partner, not its money.

"Our local government funding is very important, and it's discouraging we will not have Routt County funding us next year," Danner said. "It is not only about funding, though. It is about partners coming together for their communities : and being effective as a regional group when we make decisions."

She also said the group will have to concentrate its funds and focus on two projects for next year: the Community Indicators Report and the Annual Energy Summit. She and board members want to create action, and the best way to accomplish that will be to focus resources and not get over-stretched, Danner said.

The Indicators Report collects data on several issues - housing sales, high school graduation rates, unemployment - and links them together.

For instance, the report documents how graduation rates may affect unemployment, which in turn affects the number of people able to buy a home.

The next important step, which the Yampa Valley Partners board wants to accomplish with the upcoming 2009 report, is to make the information more accessible and more current.

The board hopes that will be possible with a new Web component.

Whereas before, the report was made into a book and then scanned for the Web site, new plans would have the report available in an interactive format. Danner said her group could update the information as it becomes available, as well, and create a living online document.

The Annual Energy Summit in Craig also will become a central cog for Yampa Valley Partners.

The group will need it to raise funds through sponsorships and tickets, for one, but it also fulfills a contemporary community need, Danner said.

"The Energy Summit is an opportunity for the community - which I use as a very board term - to understand the emerging issue of energy development in our region and what the implications are," she said.

Yampa Valley Partners does not intend to charge speakers' fees, Danner added, because that might discourage some from attending. The event is designed to provide basic information about development so that residents and political leaders have a shared understanding of the industry in Northwest Colorado.

Board member wanted

Along with its funding, The Routt County Commission decided to renounce its Yampa Valley Partners board position, also.

The group is seeking a new board member, Danner said. The position is not connected to funding in any way.

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