County, TMH further building sale talks

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Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Signed a letter of support, after a 3-0 vote, for the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership's grant application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. EDP plans to match about $20,000 for the $45,000 grant, which it would use to fund training and assistance for local businesses.

The group's match would help pay for an additional part-time staff person. EDP Director Darcy Trask said she and the board think the group needs more personnel to handle all the projects it wants to pursue.

• Agreed, after a 3-0 vote, to give the Moffat County School District, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Colorado River Water Conservation District and the Craig Rural Fire Protection District additional tax funds and penalty payments that resulted from the Visual Lease Services audit of energy industry property around the county.

The four groups and the county split the $198,000 it cost to hire Visual Lease, and the Commission said it would be fair to split the roughly $900,000 that the consultant firm generated through its audit.

• Approved, 3-0, a $22,448 bid for a new 2009 F-350 gas-powered pickup from Craig Ford for the Road and Bridge Department. The vehicle will replace one that recently was wrecked.

Craig Ford's was the only bid submitted because the county specified it wanted a Ford truck, which was the same model as the old vehicle. Department Manager Linda DeRose said officials wanted to put the same utility boxes on the new truck that were on the old one, and those would only fit a Ford model.

• Approved, 3-0, a decision to waive the bid process for repairing a guardrail on the Moffat County Road 7 bypass around Craig. DeRose said only one company, Colorado Springs-based Adarand Constructors, could complete the work.

The contract will be for $14,912.50, which will be paid by the insurance company of the person who damaged the rail.

Every local real estate agent should have a chance to earn a contract with The Memorial Hospital to sell its existing facility at 785 Russell St., Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Commission directed TMH officials to select an agent through a bid process.

"We owe it to the community to allow all agents the ability to be part of that process," Mathers said.

He added he would recuse himself from the selection process if his wife, Stacey, who co-owns Cornerstone Realty, submits a bid.

The process will not be completely open, though.

Only local agents should be considered, Mathers said, which follows the Commission's belief that every aspect of the building's sale should adhere what is best for Moffat County.

The Commission also retains the final decision on the building's purchaser. The county owns the hospital facility. Its members said finances and community benefit would factor into the decision.

For instance, a commercial developer may be able to offer more money for the property than another buyer that would use the building for medical services.

In that case, the Commission would weigh whether the additional money would benefit the community more than additional medical personnel.

In either case, the county wants to get the ball rolling, and TMH officials agree.

The county asked TMH to prepare a list of annual utility costs for the building and hire a company to do a hazardous materials test. The hospital paid about $2,000 for Steamboat Springs-based Northwest Colorado Consultants to conduct the test, which isn't done yet.

Mathers said that information will be important to get the sale process started, especially as it concerns the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

The VNA, which already leases a portion of the hospital, has expressed interest in the building. However, the organization is not sure it could afford such a deal.

"With this stuff," Mathers said, alluding to the hospital's utility costs and hazardous materials study, "maybe the VNA can step up and say one thing or another."

Commissioner Audrey Danner added this process sometimes feels like a three-legged race, with the county, hospital and VNA all running independently. She plans to organize a three-way meeting in the future so that each party can get the same information at the same time.

The hospital and the county also plan to sign a memorandum of understanding in the next few weeks to plan out how the building will be sold, which groups are responsible for what and where any profits would go.

Commissioner Tom Gray said he prefers taking the process slow.

He wants to make sure the sale is planned carefully and handled in the open so the public is aware of everything as it happens.

The hospital does not plan to advertise for a real estate until the agreement with the county is signed.

"Anytime in my life when I jumped without being able to see where I'm landing, I didn't like it when I landed," he said.

Gray also plans to speak at tonight's TMH board meeting to discuss the county's positions and gather the board's thoughts.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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