It would be hard to have a set opinion on the Moffat County School District's proposal to city officials, Craig City Councilor Ray Beck said Wednesday, because the proposal hasn't been consistent.
Superintendent Pete Bergmann and Joel Sheridan, School District construction liaison, asked the city for $365,000 to help the School District build a second, full-size gymnasium at Craig Middle School, which the city also would use for its own programs.
That figure - which Sheridan announced at the Council meeting Tuesday - is more than double the original $150,000 request made Feb. 24.
If approved, the money would be used to expand a small physical education room planned for the north end of the middle school.
Bergmann and Sheridan said the district does not need two gyms for student activities, and the city's decision would have little to no bearing on the district whichever it decided.
Bergmann and Sheridan first said the city would have to contribute $150,000.
District officials said they think they could find other partners at the time - such as Moffat County or Colorado Northwestern Community College - but those groups have said they would not be willing to contribute funding to a new gym.
As the hope for other partners faded, Beck said the district's request to the city changed to $200,000 and then $250,000.
The numbers changed a third time at the Council meeting Tuesday, when Sheridan introduced the latest price, $365,000.
There were two reasons for the increase: The district used incorrect financials in previous discussions, and city staff evaluated the project and decided they would need 12 additional feet of width for city programs.
Sheridan said the city is not the only party being asked for money. The School District, he added, also would now be responsible for $526,000 - or 59 percent - of the gym's $891,000 total cost.
All things considered, Beck said the project would be a good investment for the city. The problems are timing, cost and "the unknowns."
"I just don't want to put the city of Craig or the taxpayers in a position where we have to take out a loan if the economy tanks and our sales taxes fall through," Beck said. "I think gym space is much needed, but I think the timing is off."
Mayor Don Jones also cited timing as one of his key concerns.
However, whereas Beck said he was 50/50 about whether to support the gym proposal, Jones said he is leaning toward voting against it.
District officials should have approached the city during budget planning last October, he said.
"If we'd have planned this in October instead of February, we might have worked something out," he said. "I guess I'm probably not in favor of pursuing this any further than what we did last night. My gut feeling is to say no."
However, Jones said he could be swayed.
City staff plans to meet at 8:30 a.m. today to discuss what other projects could be funded with the city's $651,000 surplus.
Jones said he would be open to listening to anything the staff agrees is important.
Councilor Gene Bilodeau agreed with Jones' position that staff input would be a primary factor in his decision.
Bilodeau was the one who denied gym funding on behalf of CNCC, which he said was based on the college building a new Craig campus, and not having any funds leftover.
The difference between the college and the city is that Craig has a sizeable surplus of dollars, which Bilodeau credited to city staff's budgeting efforts.
As of now, he said he hopes the city can work with the School District, but he won't push for something that doesn't make sense for residents.
"I'd love to be able to vote for it," Bilodeau said.
As would Councilor Terry Carwile, but he said he has a few concerns, including the public's attitude toward the project, which has been "largely negative."
"I don't know if it's an ongoing apprehension or a grievance that the money from the bond election isn't going as far as people thought it would," Carwile said. "There's some validity to the idea (that the gym is for the public, not the School District), but I don't think it's perceived that way in the community."
The Council is set to make a final decision at its March 24 meeting. The School District's general contractor, The Neenan Co., gave a March 30 deadline for the district to decide what it wants to build.