Taunna Hummel, a master control technician at the Moffat County Jail, located inside the Moffat County Public Safety Center, watches inmate activity Tuesday. The Moffat County Commission offered to sell the city of Craig the space the Craig Police Department occupies at the safety center for $1.083 million. However, Craig Mayor Don Jones said the city can’t afford the county’s offer.

Photo by Brian Smith

Taunna Hummel, a master control technician at the Moffat County Jail, located inside the Moffat County Public Safety Center, watches inmate activity Tuesday. The Moffat County Commission offered to sell the city of Craig the space the Craig Police Department occupies at the safety center for $1.083 million. However, Craig Mayor Don Jones said the city can’t afford the county’s offer.

Craig City Council declines Moffat County's safety center offer

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The entrance to the Craig Police Department’s office space inside the Moffat County Public Safety Center is shown here. In response to an offer made by the Moffat County Commission for the space occupied by the Craig Police Department at the center, city officials want to examine the possibility of constructing a new building for the police department and working on a new, short-term lease with the county.

Also at the meeting

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 6-0, Nov. 9 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 6-0, ordinance No. 1009 adopting the 2011 city budget. Second reading.

• Approved, 5-1, ordinance No. 1010 amending the care and treatment of animals section of the Craig municipal code to prohibit the feeding of deer and other big game animals. First reading.

• Approved, 6-0, ordinance No. 1011 waiving the municipal court clerk performance bond. Second reading.

• Approved, 6-0, ordinance No. 1012 amending the Craig municipal code to increase the water and wastewater rates to provide sufficient revenues to maintain the balance of water and wastewater enterprise funds. First reading.

• Approved, 6-0, renewal of the hotel and restaurant and liquor license for Vallartas Mexican Restaurant at 1111 W. Victory Way. No cause was shown for denial.

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

• Approved, 6-0, renewal of the liquor license for J.W. Snacks Bar & Grill at 210 E. Victory Way. No cause was shown for denial.

• Heard a report from the Craig deer committee.

• Heard a financial report for October from finance director Bruce Nelson.

• Heard a monthly report for the water department.

• Heard a monthly report for the wastewater department.

— Council member Byron Willems was absent from the meeting

The Craig City Council declined Tuesday night the Moffat County Commission’s sale price for the Craig Police Department’s space at the Moffat County Public Safety Center.

Although no formal action was taken, Craig Mayor Don Jones said the city can’t afford the commission’s asking price.

At its regular meeting Tuesday morning, the county commission approved, 3-0, offering the city a one-time purchase price for the police department’s space totaling $1.083 million.

The offer included city ownership rights of the 2,258 square feet of exclusive office space the police department currently occupies, and one-third of undivided interest of 9,000 square feet of common space.

The county’s offer was in response to a previous offer made by the city.

“We have given you an offer, we’ve seen your counter offer and we are all in agreement that we can’t afford that,” Jones said.

Jones suggested the council examine the possibility of organizing a request for proposal for construction of a new building to house the police department. In the meantime, Jones suggested the city meet with the county to iron out details of a new short-term lease of the police department’s space.

The city and county began discussing several months ago what the police department should pay in rent at the safety center.

Lease negotiations stem from an agreement made about a decade ago that the city would provide the land for the safety center if the county provided free rent for the police department for 10 years.

The rent-free decade for the police department ends in August 2011.

During initial discussions, the county commission presented possible future lease costs based on the current operating costs of the building, which would place the lease cost at $256,591 per year to the city.

Commissioner Audrey Danner said at the commission’s meeting that talks of the city purchasing the police department’s space of the safety center began in the second of three meetings between city and county negotiating teams.

“That’s where the discussion was and then the negotiating team said, ‘You know, a purchase seems to make more sense at this point,’” she said. “So, we moved down that path, but that does not preclude us from going back to rent if we don’t reach a purchase price at some point that meets everybody’s approval.”

Council member Gene Bilodeau said the mayor’s remarks about requesting proposals for building a new police department facility means the council would strongly consider it if the price was about the same or less than the county’s offer.

“It means that we are serious enough that … it is prudent of us to find out, to give real live numbers of what it would cost us to build a building to meet our needs,” he said. “It would certainly not be on the scale of the safety center because we would not need that. It would probably be somewhere between that 5,000 and 7,000 square foot mark.”

Bilodeau agreed that the county’s offer was too high, but said he would still like to keep the police department in the safety center building.

“The preferred option is to have struck an agreement with the county that we could both live with because we truly do believe that having all those entities under one roof would be the ideal situation,” he said. “It is working out great right now.

“But, when it comes to how we are spending monies, the concern of how we spend money is just as, or more important than, everyone being under the same roof.”

During the council meeting, Bilodeau also discussed the various offers made between the two entities during the negotiating process.

Bilodeau said the city received an offer from the county to purchase the police department’s space for $1.2 million in early November. The city then countered with an offer of $736,120, he said.

Council member Joe Herod said he originally did not want the price to exceed $550,000.

“I did agree to $736,000, and that is where I stand,” he said. “I can’t see us going any higher.”

Herod said he felt the residents of Craig “have already been paying their taxes for the public safety center,” and “now they are asking us to pay it again.”

“In 10 years, they have paid $1.5 million … to that,” he said of Craig taxpayers. “If you cut that in half, that is $750,000. That is way more than it is worth. Now we are offering them $735,000 … and they don’t want it.”

Council member Jennifer Riley said she thought the city’s offer of $736,120 was reasonable.

“I couldn’t pay that,” she said of the county’s offer. “I don’t think that’s doing right by our taxpayers.”

Comments

justateacher 4 years ago

Just a suggestion. Perhaps it is time to think outside of the box. Instead of Craig and Moffat County what about thinking of Moffat County as a whole.

Craig vs. Moffat County does get old. Everyone would benefit if we all could work together. Just a thought...

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