Commission overturns MCTA decision |

Commission overturns MCTA decision

Brian Smith

The Moffat County Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to overturn a recent decision made by the Moffat County Tourism Association Board.

At its regular Tuesday meeting, the commission approved, 3-0, to reverse MCTA's decision to give 30 days notice to cancel a memorandum of understanding with the Craig Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 1 concerning funding for the Moffat County Visitor Center.

The commission also approved funding for the visitor center totaling $27,068.83 for 2011 operations.

The commission addressed the matter for more than a half-hour to a room full of MCTA and Chamber of Commerce board members. The discussion centered on MCTA's funding of the visitor center and talks of moving the MCTA director's office from the Museum of Northwest Colorado to the Chamber building.

MCTA's decision to give 30 days notice to the Chamber came during a Nov. 10 meeting and included a similar decision with the museum concerning MCTA's office space lease.

MCTA director Marilynn Hill said the MCTA board's actions were to "open lines of communication, to not limit funding and to follow the current MOU and stay in compliance."

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Chamber executive director Christina Oxley asked the commission to consider overturning MCTA's decision and award the visitor center funding, considering the action "puts the visitor center in a very awkward position, budgetarily."

Craig Daily Press Publisher and MCTA board member Bryce Jacobson said he felt the commission's role should not be to "manage those decisions and overturn" actions from county boards.

"You have appointed a board to make decisions," he said. "If those don't please the rest of the community, I understand that is going to be hard sometimes and sometimes you are going to hear those complaints."

Oxley disagreed.

"Unfortunately, in this situation, this discussion about housing the director, the MCTA board was told several months ago we were open to that discussion," she said. "Unfortunately, instead of being approached on a professional level at a board meeting or through a phone call or saying, 'We would like to reopen this discussion,' the MOU was taken off the table in an effort, it feels like, to force us to have that discussion and force us to come to an agreement before the funding is reinstated through the MOU."

Hill responded to Oxley and said the action may look "like MCTA is being mean spirited, but it's not."

"It was very much put forth (that) this is to continue the conversation and to try to kind of jump start (it)," she said.

Commissioner Tom Mathers, who made the motion to overturn MCTA's decision, said the MOU wasn't created to "force anybody to do anything."

"That is what it kind of looks like," he said. "Like you are saying 'we are going to pull the money if you don't allow us to come back to the Chamber and put an office in there."

Commissioner Tom Gray said negotiations between the Chamber and MCTA should continue regarding office space at the Chamber building, but the existing MOU should stay in place until an agreement is reached.

"It think it provides a good value and a positive example of working together, and I am for keeping it in place," he said.

Jacobson asked several questions throughout the meeting about what the motion made by Mathers means for both organizations in the future.

Gray said the commission is not voting to rewrite the MOU to prevent an organization from giving the 30 days withdrawal notice in the future, but rather stop MCTA from currently taking such an action.

"So, next week we can?" Jac-

obson said of giving notice to cancel the MOU.

Gray responded by saying MCTA could do so, "but you better not."

"Or what?" Jacobson said.

In response, Gray said MCTA board members could be removed or changed at the commission's discretion.

"I'm not speaking for this board, but I'm saying it's pretty plain what our intent is," Gray said. "We want you guys to work together. If you are going to vote next week to get out of the MOU, then I would have to seriously look at whether our board is acting on our behalf."

Also at the meeting

At its regular Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, Oct. 19 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 3-0, a contract amendment with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for capital improvement revenue and expenditure allocations totaling $479,263.

• Approved, 3-0, a transfer of intergovernmental funds for November from the general fund to the capital projects fund totaling $4,680.

• Approved, 3-0, a petition for abatement of taxes from Hugh Stanley Turner totaling $1,286.70 for 2008 and $1,535.07 for 2009.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition for the Moffat County Tourism Association for a part-time, temporary office assistant to work a total of 80 hours.

• Approved, 3-0, signing a letter drafted by the Moffat County Land Use Board to governor-elect John Hickenlooper.

• Hosted a 2011 budget public hearing with budget analyst Tinneal Gerber.

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