Craig police chief presents council with expenses from Romney visit


In other action ...

During its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 7-0, May 22 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 7-0, May bills and accounts payable totaling $447,819.49

• Heard a presentation recognizing Kaylee Buckley as the winner of the annual Colorado Municipal League essay contest.

• Awarded, 7-0, a $229,680.93 bid to Elam Construction for 2012 asphalt overlay projects.

• Heard a Craig Police Department May month-end report.

On Tuesday night, Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta presented the Craig City Council a cost analysis for the three city departments that assisted with May’s campaign stop by Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

In addition to police officers running crowd control, the city’s road and bridge and parks and recreation departments issued road closures, detours and provided equipment to Romney campaign staffers.

Among the three departments, Vanatta estimated a total cost of approximately $19,700 when factoring regular and overtime pay, and equipment usage.

But that figure is somewhat skewed, Vanatta said, because $5,625 of the $19,700 total consists of regular time pay for a variety of city employees already scheduled to work that day.

“The loss occurs because they couldn’t perform their normal duties and were dedicated to this event,” Vanatta said. “The dollars would have been spent anyway, but it’s a ‘soft loss’ because of the loss of productivity.”

In addition to the $5,625 in regular time costs, Vanatta said the city paid out $10,895 in overtime to its employees and utilized about $2,850 worth of equipment.

Part-time employees with the parks and recreation department earned $325 for their assistance with the event.

In addition to city agencies, Vanatta reported the Craig Rural Fire Protection District incurred $5,949 in costs, raising the total for the taxpayer-funded event to more than $25,000.

Although Routt County contributed some deputies to assist with crowd control and reported costs of $1,680, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said he could not report how the event affected his department’s budget because his deputies have the option to put overtime hours towards their “flex time.” Flex time, Jantz said, is like compiling overtime hours to trade for days off.

Though Romney’s visit has been widely touted as a positive event in the history of Craig and Moffat County, Vanatta said he and other city directors have been criticized for incurring costs associated with a Republican Party campaign stop.

“My response to that would be, if a Democratic presidential candidate came to town with the same Secret Service protection, we’d be doing the same thing,” he said. “I would tend to agree that it was worth the cost anyway just because of the national attention the city got. From a long-term marketing standpoint, that was pretty cheap.”

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