Editorial: ‘A bird in the hand …’

Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Alisa Corey

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Bridget Manley

— Newspaper representative

• Jerry Martin

— Newspaper representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

Our View

Moffat County officials should accept an offer from Kum & Go to buy a storage building located just west of its location at 700 E. Victory Way. Instead, they are mired in red-tape thinking and might instead hold an open auction for the property.

Economic development, particularly today in this struggling economic time, is vital to the short- and long-term outlooks of communities everywhere.

Craig and Moffat County’s commitment to economic development is notable.

Officials have done a decent job of fostering an environment suitable for local residents and businesses.

The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership is an example of how, coupled with smart spending, city and county officials have partnered to tackle critical issues since the 2008 financial collapse.

With some exciting business ventures on the horizon, the economic development emphasis seems to be working.

But, a recent questionable decision by the Moffat County Commission could derail one more new development and economic development enhancer to our community.

Kum & Go officials submitted plans last week to the City of Craig proposing an expansion of the company’s convenience store/gas station at 700 E. Victory Way.

If plans materialized, the east store would be on par with the biggest the company has in Colorado.

However there’s a hitch, as there usually is with new ventures.

To expand, the company needs the land just west of the current store. On that land is a seldom-used storage and equipment building owned by Moffat County.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers told the Craig Daily Press last week a Kum & Go official contacted the county to discuss the company possibly acquiring the land and building that sits on it. The company offered $435,000 — $375,000 for the building and $60,000 for the land.

This should be a slam-dunk deal, the editorial board contends, but it’s far from that.

In an example of bureaucracy trumping commonsense, the county is exploring having a live auction for the property, with minimum bids starting at $435,000.

The reason: it’s “against the county’s policy to sole source any sales or purchases,” Mathers said.

The minimum bid price isn’t the issue.

No, the editorial board is concerned with what appears to be the commission’s shortsighted thinking and its willingness to adhere to red-tape regulations rather than promote economic development.

The old phrase, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” comes to mind when thinking of this issue.

Why make Kum & Go jump through hoops to buy a piece of property it would use to benefit the community and local economy?

Sure, another developer could swoop in and outbid the company, padding county coffers with more money, but what if the new buyer doesn’t develop the property for several years?

And there’s also a risk the headache of the bid process deters Kum & Go and it moves on to another community less problematic, and no other developers fill the gap.

If anything, county officials should put the property on the open market and let potential buyers and proposals of what they would do with the property decide the outcome.

A formal process is important in many cases when it comes to government transactions. That’s not lost on the editorial board.

But, these are hard economic times.

When a company comes calling and seeks to pump $435,000 into the public’s bank account, and infuse sales taxes and create jobs by developing a business on top of it — all while providing the east side of town with a much-needed face-lift, our public officials shouldn’t be creating a obstacles and road blocks.

They should be clearing them.

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