Editorial: Development delayed


Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Jerry Martin

— Newspaper representative

• Patt McCaffrey

— Community representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

Our View

Although a county policy against sole sourcing sales and purchases is generally well advised, an exception should have been made in April when Kum & Go offered to buy a little-used county building located next to the company’s location at 700 E. Victory Way, and the county opted instead to auction the building. Hopefully Kum & Go won’t lose patience.

A few months ago, the editorial board commented on a decision made by Moffat County officials to auction a county-owned property rather than sell it outright to Kum & Go.

Kum & Go already had submitted plans to the city outlining how it would use the property, located adjacent to Kum & Go’s store at 700 E. Victory Way, to construct a new, bigger location on par with the company’s biggest gas stations in the state.

Since the property is only occupied by a seldom-used county storage building, the editorial board didn’t understand why county commissioners would want to make a company, especially one that is ready to start developing now, wait for weeks — maybe even a month or two — to acquire property that has been of no interest to any other conceivable buyer.

Well, here we are three months later, and county officials have just now decided to hold the auction … in mid-August. That makes four.

Four months between the day Kum & Go submitted plans to the city and the day when they may possibly acquire the property they need to make their business plans a reality.

As one editorial board member put it, that’s just long enough for Kum & Go to decide to build somewhere else.

The editorial board isn’t alleging any kind of plan to keep Kum & Go from buying the property.

Officials have stated that the opening bid for the property will be the same amount Kum & Go offered to pay for the property back in April.

That's a nice gesture, but the editorial board believes this is a case where a red-tape mentality prevailed over common sense.

In April, commissioner Tom Mathers said the county would host an auction rather than conduct an outright sale because it is “against the county’s policy to sole source any sales or purchases.”

For the most part, that’s a good policy. It ensures the county will always get the best possible price.

But in this case, the editorial board contends an exception should have been made.

Sure, another developer may be willing to pay more, but what if the new buyer doesn’t develop the property for several years?

Kum & Go is not only willing to buy the property now, but construction of the new store may create jobs in the area, and when the store is finished there certainly will be jobs added to the local economy.

And, as the editorial board member remarked earlier, 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, completely wasting the opportunity to create a business development in our community.

For the most part, county officials do a good job traversing the rough waters that come with managing finances for a town economically dependent on energy.

However, especially given the disdain many of those officials have for red tape and regulations present in the energy industry, is it too much to ask that they make an effort to avoid the same pitfalls when conducting county business?

Hopefully this is just a small delay in what will turn out to be a successful development project by Kum & Go.

We’ll find out soon enough.

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