County tries to keep community aid funding despite budget crunch |

County tries to keep community aid funding despite budget crunch

Collin Smith

Although Moffat County faces what officials have called "tremendous challenges" with its budget in the future, the commissioners still consider local nonprofits and community aid organizations an important part of their duty to residents.

Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said the commissioners were very cognizant of supporting nonprofits in 2010 and chose to fund the intergovernmental Human Resource Council its full $40,000 next year.

The organization uses county and city of Craig funds to distribute donations throughout the year to such groups as Advocates-Crisis Support Services, Horizons Specialized Services, Moffat County Humane Society, Craig Mental Health, Love INC, United Way and Little Britches Rodeo, among others.

"HRC did not go down one dime," Danner said.

She later added, "We know it's important to support those nonprofits as those nonprofits do a lot to support our community."

County officials' decision to stick with its typical allocation to HRC comes at a time when they also are trying to make spending cuts that will help balance the budget during the next three years.

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Property tax projections show there will be a significant drop in revenue in 2011 because of production and equipment declines in the energy industry.

Grant revenue from the state — which also is based on energy industry taxes — likewise are expected to be significantly less than what counties have received since 2001.

Together, property tax and intergovernmental grants make up about two-thirds of the county's total governmental revenues each year.

"We had to look at our contributions and determine what fit within the priorities of the county," Danner said of funds allocated to outside agencies next year. "This year, with one exception, we were able to continue funding these organizations at levels that were flat from this past year."

Aside from HRC, seven groups applied for funding during the normal budget process. The Boys & Girls Club of Craig requested $20,000 to help remodel its building, but Danner said the request came after the budget was largely decided, and county officials have yet to make a final decision on whether to award the money.

Of those that applied this summer, each organization received as much money for 2010 as it did in 2009, except for the Dinosaur Welcome Center, which asked for less, and Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden, which got $7,000 this year and was allocated $5,000 next year.

Danner said the commission considers the airport an important part of the regional economy, as it does the Craig/Moffat County Airport.

But, the county must begin to pull back spending before revenues fall, she added.

Although the other groups received the same funding they did this year, many did not receive as much as they requested.

Among those was the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, a local economic development group that has at times offered business counseling seminars to existing business owners and attempted to bring new primary businesses to the area.

EDP requested $15,000 for 2010, but was awarded $2,500.

"Economic development is very important," Danner said. "But, even if we funded them $15,000, they are not in a position to provide incentives to bring a business here."

Danner said EDP is doing well educating and strengthening local businesses, which are a "significant" part of the economy.

The group does not seem to be in a place where it can broaden its scope beyond that, she added, and the county had to consider its dwindling revenue before committing more money.

"Make no mistake, we're funding economic development," Danner said. "We could not see our way clear to increasing their request at this time."

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