Families enjoy the Whittle the Wood event during the summer of 2007. For the 2009 event, which is set to take place June 17 to 20, city officials are concerned about costs and may ask for donations or charge some fees.

File photo

Families enjoy the Whittle the Wood event during the summer of 2007. For the 2009 event, which is set to take place June 17 to 20, city officials are concerned about costs and may ask for donations or charge some fees.

City Council: DOLA, festival present financial issues

Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 6-0, purchasing a $19,575 motor grader wing attachment for the Road and Bridge Department from Wagner Equipment.

The purchase was not put out to bid.

Randy Call, city Road and Bridge Department director, said Wagner is the only local retailer for Caterpillar parts, which is the same make as the motor grader.

Although the city has never purchased a wing attachment before, Call said the item could prove well worth the expense. It will allow one grader to do the work of two in the same amount of time, which will cut down on overtime and make city crews more efficient.

Councilor Byron Willems was not present at the meeting.

• Approved, 5-0, a $122,820 bid award to Craig Ford for four Craig Police Department patrol vehicles.

Craig Ford submitted the low bid, and was the only bidder to meet required specifications. Cook Chevrolet and Victory Motors also submitted bids.

The city will purchase four 2009 Ford Expedition Special Service Vehicles with extended warranties.

Councilor Gene Bilodeau abstained from the vote because the Police Department agreed to donate three of the old patrol vehicles to Colorado Northwestern Community College, where Bilodeau works, for its Law Enforcement Academy in Rangely. In return, the Police Department will get some free training and access to a new driving track.

• Approved, 6-0, an $80,000 contract with Denver-based Stantec for a citywide transportation master plan to be completed by July 1. The city sent out bid requests to five companies and Stantec was the only one to respond.

• Approved, 6-0, a special events permit for Craig Rotary Club for its Diamonds and Spurs Dinner Dance on Jan. 24 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

• Approved, 6-0, retainer agreements with attorneys Jim Moylan and Lynaia South Orr to serve as hearing officers for Craig Liquor License Authority. They will be paid $200 an hour plus mileage.

• Approved, 6-0, the second reading of an ordinance amending outdoor vendor regulations.

• Approved, 6-0, the first reading of an ordinance amending the city's junk regulations.

• Approved, 6-0, a retail warehouse storage permit for Eastside Liquor, 539 E. Victory Way.

• Approved, 6-0, renewal of a tavern liquor license for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4265, 419 E. Victory Way.

• Approved, 6-0, a sketch plan for Highlands Subdivision requested by DCS.

• Approved, 6-0, the construction of a 50-foot Union Telephone monopole at the company's facility at 345 Mack Lane.

• Approved, 6-0, a conditional use permit for a single-family dwelling in a light industrial zone district at 1536 E. Victory Way.

• Approved, 6-0, a resolution designating the City Hall foyer as the official place for posting notice of any meeting as required under the open meetings law.

• Approved, 6-0, a resolution declaring the Daily Press as the city's official newspaper.

The city of Craig did not escape the same fiscal strain affecting other local groups that sought state funding.

Just as the Colorado Department of Local Affairs approved less than half the grant money that other local groups asked for, the city received less than half of what it requested for equipment replacement.

Moffat County, the Moffat County School District and Colorado Northwestern Community College received about $1.4 million from DOLA, out of $2.9 million total requested.

City officials now have learned that their $504,000 request was partially approved for $200,000, despite the fact that the city planned to match its own $500,000 to the project. In the past, DOLA has looked more favorably on projects with high-percentage matches from local governments.

At the Council meeting Tuesday, City Manager Jim Ferree presented suggestions for what may have to be cut from new equipment purchases. Among items in limbo are four trucks for various departments and a $140,000 collection truck for the Solid Waste Department.

Although the cuts are unfortunate, Ferree said, they likely won't noticeably harm the city.

Most of the departments don't have major purchases scheduled for 2010, so pushing the expenses back a year shouldn't pile things up to the point they would be unmanageable, he wrote in an internal memo.

The biggest concern is how the city moves forward now that DOLA funds are more limited than ever before.

The state received about $54 million in requests, but it had only about $22 million to give out. DOLA officials have said many of the September applications were denied.

It appears that DOLA will use a more critical eye to gauge which projects are approved in the future, Ferree said, which the city will have to take into account and make necessary adjustments.

"I think they're less receptive to equipment purchases right now than things like infrastructure and facilities," Ferree said.

He added that city officials who appeared at DOLA hearings said the state seemed to think of equipment as "operating expenses," which local governments may just have to budget for themselves.

The city does have some of those projects in line for this year and next, such as road overlays and water line renovations.

Craig likely will apply for DOLA at every opportunity, he said, including reapplying for some of the equipment funding that didn't make the cut this time around.

Councilor Terry Carwile warned that there is a faint outline of writing on the wall for future DOLA grants. With the state of Colorado looking at a $600 million deficit, it would not surprise him if the Legislature started taking DOLA energy impact funds away from local communities and putting it toward other things on the state level, such as education or transportation.

State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, already introduced such a bill to the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee.

Baumgardner, who represents Moffat County, proposed taking mineral lease revenues used for DOLA grants and putting them toward statewide transportation needs for 10 years.

The funds currently are designated only for local communities affected by large-scale energy development, such as Moffat County.

Whittle the Wood costs expected to be up

Dave Pike, city Parks and Recreation Department director, asked the Council what it would think about charging $5 admission for this year's Whittle the Wood event at City Park.

Pike did not like the idea, he said, but entertainment costs have shot up faster than revenue can keep pace.

The Council also did not like the idea.

"I think you would ruin Whittle the Wood if you charged," Mayor Don Jones said.

As an alternative, he suggested the city start selling alcohol, instead of allowing residents to bring their own, though he wasn't too happy with that idea, either.

Councilor Joe Herod said the city should just bite the bullet and find the money itself.

"When you take the money we spend on it, divide that by 5,000 people, it's not really that much," he said. "As a city council, I think it should be our job to find some cash."

After meeting with his staff Wednesday morning, Pike said the admission price idea officially is off the table. The need for funding remains, however, he said.

"We could use a good $5,000," Pike said. "But we'll make it work, somehow or another."

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.