Moffat County Commission disputes city’s safety center claims

In other news:

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 2-0, a road maintenance permit with T. Wright Dickinson of the Vermillion Ranch for the South Green River Road from the swinging bridge to Buffham Bottom.

• Approved, 2-0, a proclamation from the Moffat County Early Childhood Coalition declaring April as month of the young child.

• Approved, 2-0, a personnel requisition for a regular, full-time self-sufficiency case manager for the Department of Social Services.

• Approved, 2-0, a personnel requisition for a regular, full-time grounds and facility maintenance technician for the grounds and building, fairgrounds, cemetery and parks and recreation department.

• Approved, 2-0, a personnel requisition for a temporary, full-time grounds and facility maintenance technician for the fairgrounds department.

• Approved, 2-0, to waive the bid process for binding of real estate record books for the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s office and to award a contract with T.C.B Mobile Bookbinding for 60 books totaling $15,000.

• Approved, 2-0, to start a sealed bid process for a mineral lease sale of 1,055 acres of mineral interests owned by Moffat County and the Museum of Northwest Colorado

• Approved, 2-0, a permission letter allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s department of soil and crop sciences to dig five holes less than two feet in diameter and no deeper than three feet to take soil samples for carbon analysis on county land near Dinosaur National Monument.

• Approved, 2-0, to support an extension of a contract for hosting the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association finals at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in 2012 and 2013 with the same terms as last year and this year and to document Moffat County’s in-kind contributions.

— Note: Commissioner Tom Mathers was absent.

The Moffat County Commission responded Tuesday to a recent Craig City Council work session concerning negotiations for the Moffat County Public Safety Center.

At its regular meeting, commissioners discussed what they felt were misrepresentations by the city council, namely regarding the financing of the safety center, as well as use of sales tax money collected to pay for construction of the center.

Commissioner Tom Gray said the council’s notions aren’t true, and false “allegations have been out there that the (county) mishandled the sales tax and used it for purposes that weren’t allowed, or when they refinanced they pulled money out or extended the pay off date.”

Budget analyst Tinneal Gerber addressed those and a variety of other issues brought up by the council at the work session.

Gerber said although the safety center was refinanced as suggested by the Moffat County finance corporation, the term of the financing has always been through 2025 and saved $790,000 in interest over the term.

She also said an increase in sales tax money collected from a voter-approved tax measure has not gone to purchases other than the safety center fund.

Several residents attended the commission meeting, including Craig resident Andy Bullen.

Bullen said the “errors” need to be made clear because if they were taken at “face value, it makes the county commissioners look like a bunch of bad guys.”

“Making all of that stuff clear to folks like me is, at this point, very important for the county commissioners to be doing so everybody can in fact understand this is what is going on, this is where the money came from, this is where the money is going,” he said noting he would like to see both sides work together to reach an agreement.

The city and county have been discussing what the Craig Police Department should pay in rent at the safety center due to a lease set to expire in August.

The city received free rent at the safety center for the last decade in exchange for providing the land the center was built on for free.

Negotiations have shifted from lease costs to a one-time purchase price, but the city council rejected the county’s purchase offer of $1.083 million, stating the city couldn’t afford more than $736,120 for the space.

Commissioner Audrey Danner elaborated on the commission’s absence from the city council’s workshop despite being invited.

“They had their perspective that they wanted to present and I said, ‘I feel that would be distracting’ if we were saying, ‘Oh, well, this is how we understand it,’ because it is confusing enough as it is,” she said.

Craig resident Ken Wergin attended Tuesday’s commission meeting and said he hopes negotiations resume.

“When other issues come up, I love the transparency of you guys getting it out there so that we can understand it,” he said to the commission. “So you can represent what we feel, because we don’t know how to feel when we don’t know what is going on.

“So it has been a bit of agony, but at least we are moving on.”

Gray said he was optimistic about the negotiations even though they are always “tedious,” no matter the subject.

“This will get worked out,” he said. “It is not like an impasse that will never get resolved. We are still working at it and we will get it settled.”

City council member Gene Bilodeau, who serves on the negotiating team for the city, said a purchase price was “dead in the water.”

Gray said he wanted to reiterate that it was city officials who brought up the idea of a purchase price.

“Now we are going to go back and talk about rent and that is fine, but (there is a) misconception that somehow we started out by saying, ‘No, by golly, you are going to buy this thing,’ and that is not the way it developed,” he said.

Danner said the commission would revisit lease options per the council’s request. The commission is “very amenable” to such an idea.

“We will find a way to make this work,” she said.

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