Safety center lease at issue in Craig
Also at the meeting
In other news, the Craig City Council:
• Approved, 7-0, Aug. 24 meeting minutes.
• Approved, 7-0, August bills totaling $485,336.38
• Approved, 7-0, a site plan for hardware, feed and lumber buildings on Lot 1 of the Sawer Replat requested by MJK Sales & Feed.
• Approved, 7-0, the second reading of ordinance No. 1007 to amend Section 6.20.010 of the Craig Municipal Code to conform to the section title concerning livestock and fowl.
• Introduced ordinance No. 1008 to amend Section 9.42.040 of the Craig Municipal Code to conform to state noise laws concerning motor vehicles engaging an engine compression device.
• Heard a presentation from Kandee Dilldine on the 2010 Grand Olde West Days.
• Heard a presentation from the Bella Voce Chorus.
• Heard a monthly report for the Craig Police Department.
Craig City Council member Byron Willems has an idea of how area law enforcement agencies will be affected if negotiations are not resolved concerning the Craig Police Department’s lease of the Moffat County Public Safety Center.
“If this doesn’t work out, law enforcement in Moffat County and the City of Craig will be damaged,” he said in a work session Tuesday. “We have to always remember that it works great the way it is.”
Willems was discussing an expiring lease agreement between the county and city for the police department to rent space in the safety center.
Members of the Moffat County Commission, Craig City Council and several members of the community attended a work session Tuesday night at the Moffat County Courthouse concerning details of the expiring lease.
The sides did not reach an agreement.
The safety center encompasses 45,482 square feet, and houses the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Craig Police Department, Moffat County Jail, Colorado State Patrol Troop 4B and a dispatch center.
The safety center opened in 2001. The city provided the county with 17 acres to build the center.
An agreement was reached that the police department would be provided with free rent, utilities, janitorial services and routine maintenance for 10 years in exchange for the land, according to a sublease signed in 2002.
The city pays for telephone and other communications costs, insurance premiums, and repairs, according to the sublease.
The 10 years of free rent for the police department, however, ends in August 2011.
The sublease outlines how the city should then be charged for rent on the 2,258 square feet of exclusive space and 3,000 square feet of shared space the police department occupies.
The sublease states the city will pay rent for use of the exclusive space and its portion of the shared space to be determined by a “fair division between all space users of the actual costs, including utilities of operating the building.”
“To establish ‘fair share,’ consideration shall be given to the hours of operation of exclusive space, including the jail … the equipment utilized in each space and the benefit received from common space,” the sublease reads.
The county commission and county attorney Jeremy Snow presented projections on the city’s possible future lease costs based on current operating costs of the building.
Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said she wanted to emphasize a “fair and reasonable cost, but the primary goal (is to) keep all entities in one facility and we need to maintain that relationship.”
Danner said the police department occupies about 11.5 percent of the building, which places the city’s portion of total operating costs at $256,591 per year. The facility currently costs $2.21 million per year to operate.
Craig Mayor Don Jones said Tuesday he “can’t justify spending that kind of money for nothing.”
“It is hard for me to justify to the citizens of Craig that we are going to spend $200,000 a year for a couple rooms about this size and some shared space,” Jones said. “It would be better for me to go build a brand new building right across the street.”
Commissioner Tom Gray asked if it was unfair the city pay 11.5 percent of the operating costs considering it is a shared facility.
“(It) goes back to what is best for the whole community,” Gray said. “We can get into the weeds with who is paying the most taxes, or we can say, ‘Well, you know, it is a facility that serves us all.’ We are asking for some help because times are tough.”
One of the main topics of discussion at the meeting was whether or not the police department’s lease should include a percentage of the operating costs of the Moffat County Jail.
According to information presented by the commission, operating costs of the jail total $294,435, and $1.43 million per year to staff.
Snow said the police department’s future lease is obligated to include portions of the operation costs of the whole building.
“It doesn’t say the actual cost of operating the exclusive space and shared space of the Craig Police Department,” he said. “It says the building.”
City attorney Kenny Wohl said state statutes clearly read that the county is responsible for paying jail expenses.
Snow responded by saying that while state statutes may indicate the county is responsible, the sublease says differently.
“You are saying the language is that clear, but you are ignoring the clear language of the sublease, which sets that cost of the running of the facility, in just plain black and white,” he said.
Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said the jail was originally “never contemplated to be part of the shared space of this facility or the operating costs of this facility ever because it is a county jail.”
Council member Jennifer Riley said she “tremendously” resents the contention that the jail should be part of the city’s responsibility because of earlier discussions in the meeting about how many Craig residents are booked into the jail.
“It bothers me because it goes to the way … I feel you legislate the county, which is when it is not beneficial to you, you tend to ignore what is going on in the city or don’t want to be a part of the city,” she said. “But now that revenue is involved … you want the city to participate.”
Jones said the city and county need to reach a fair compromise on the issue, but “with the discussion that we have had tonight, it is not balanced.”
“So we have got a lot of work to do in a short amount of time,” he said.