Councilors unsure about gym project

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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.

Comments

als362 5 years, 9 months ago

I am amazed that more people did not make comments about this. This is after all a large issue on the horizon.

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taxslave 5 years, 9 months ago

His gut feeling tells him no but he can be swayed? What on earth does that mean...wishy,washy. A double minded man is unstable in all his way.....KJ.

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als362 5 years, 9 months ago

I still think I would rather spend some money on this, to have a place that would suit the needs of the school, and that the public could use, instead of spending millions+ on a special building that only a few people will actually use, and will be a constant, eternal cost liabillity to the city.
If, as Mr. Rinker says, a binding contract is made for public use of the gym. And people are required to pay the fees necessary to offset and self sustain public use of the gym. The city could have another place for sports activities.
It seems to me it would be cheaper to build one gym for use by several groups, than building two separate ones, one for the school, and one for the public.

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tonto 5 years, 9 months ago

If the City has such a large monetary surplus, how about some of those funds being designated for a City of Craig animal shelter? Hundreds of animals in Craig are dumped, abandoned, or running loose each year. Craig is one of the few communities without it's own animal shelter. How about a study to determine how much the City could save by owning its own animal shelter? There could be vacant land near the public safety center and county jail trustees could help maintain the facility.

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sponserit 5 years, 9 months ago

I think that it is great to spend money on our future (the kids).... Why not spend it inside the classroom! The public has used the facilities it has for years why do we need something different? Our money would be better spent on the education of our childeren.

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jitterbug 5 years, 9 months ago

I'm glad to see a politician that's willing to state where he stands (in this case the mayor is a no) but who knows better than to believe he can't change his mind. It is a good thing that the Council is waiting to hear from city workers before they make a final decision. Taxslave may want an answer now but it's better that the Council take their time with this and get all the information before making a binding decision.

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taxslave 5 years, 9 months ago

I'm saying his "gut" is warning him.....he is totally aware of the economy.

I suggest they wait and see what the sales tax receipts are for February. That would be an intelligent place to start.

Over 25K teachers in California have been given layoff notices this week. Do any of you really think we're not affected by the economic downturn? How are all of your 401K's looking? Can all of you really afford this?

There will be no recovery of the stockmarket....just sucker rallys. We're going to 5K...bank on it.

granny-do you remember when I posted a year or so back that I warned the commissioners of the emminent collapse of the stockmarket? And what have they said? The line is, "No one saw this coming"....well I sure did and I'm nobody.

That being said, I'll say no more. Do whatever you want, vote whatever way suits you.......that doesn't put any more money in my pocket to give you. Just one more foreclosure, that's all.

My pockets are empty.

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jitterbug 5 years, 9 months ago

Your doublespeak is amazing. Whenever someone challenges you, you back down and start ranting about the end of the world. Get a grip.

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als362 5 years, 9 months ago

After seeing that the original figure of $150,000.00 has now jumped to $365,000.00, it is time to say NO, there are not the funds available for this project, at this time. This money can be much better spent on books, teachers and classrooms than a gym expansion.

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lonelyone 5 years, 9 months ago

but "WE" would not be spending it on books, teachers and classrooms, WE'D be spending it on city stuff? Or are you talking about how the school should spend their money instead of building a bigger gym?

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als362 5 years, 9 months ago

I am talking about tax dollars. Which are in short supply with the economy as it is now, and will be for a good while. All tax dollars no matter which pocket the city decides to put them in all come from the same place, mine and your pockets. So you see it does not matter which bunch of dollars we are discussing, they all come from the same place, and that is why I lump them all into the same group. I am sorry if you don't understand that, it is a very simple concept.

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Cole White 5 years, 9 months ago

The economy is going to get worse before it gets better, a lot worse! Yes gym time is important, but not as important as keeping the lights on and the streets plowed. When gas is 4.50 a gallon next winter and we are wondering how we are going to keep the plows running we will be thankful that we didn't drop 350,000 for more gym space. Tax dollars are going to drop and demand for city services will go up. The city and the county has been very insightful and conservative with their budgets. Now is not the time to abandon this philosophy.

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Taxpayer 5 years, 9 months ago

Hghway1340 and Taxslave- you both are right on track. Time to keep our tax dollars in the reserve accounts so we are prepared for the future. Let us all be financially accountable and responsible and use pay as you go plan rather than mortgaging our financial future.

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