Craig, Moffat County to continue safety center discussion
September 17, 2010
Craig Mayor Don Jones had few words when asked how negotiations between the City of Craig and Moffat County will proceed following an initial Tuesday workshop on the Craig Police Department's lease of the Moffat County Public Safety Center.
"We'll see what happens," he said. "We've got a starting point, and we'll continue on and keep working at it."
Jones and other members of the Craig City Council met with the Moffat County Commission on Tuesday to discuss the police department's lease of 2,258 square feet of exclusive space and 3,000 square feet of shared space it currently occupies.
The safety center encompasses 45,482 square feet, and houses the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, Craig Police Department, Moffat County Jail, Colorado State Patrol Troop 4B and a dispatch center.
The city provided the 17 acres the safety center was built on to the county. In exchange for the land, the city and county agreed to provide the police department with 10 years of free rent.
The rent-free decade for the police department, however, ends in August 2011, according to a sublease signed in 2002.
At the initial Tuesday workshop, the county presented projections on the city's possible future lease costs based on the current operating costs of the building.
The police department occupies about 11.5 percent of the building. The commission said the city's por-
tion of the building's operating costs, considering the space it occupies, would be $256,591 per year.
No agreement on the price of the police department's future lease was reached after an hour and a half of discussion, however.
The two sides agreed to organize a smaller committee to gather more information on the safety center, and to review the original sublease and the building's financial information, Jones said.
"We had a few more questions and wanted a few more answers," Jones said.
Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said the committee should meet in the coming weeks in hopes of reaching an agreement soon.
Jones said the city will try to talk the county down from the possible lease prices originally discussed.
"We have got to," he said. "I don't want to get hung by my constituents."
Jones said he would have a hard time approving several hundred thousand dollars in rent per year for the space the department occupies in the center.
"Why spend $200,000 a year (in) rent?" he said. "That is hard to justify to anybody."
Jones said the police department moving out of the safety center is a possibility if the city and county can't reach an agreement on the price of the lease — further describing it as "option Q."
"I don't know if we have any other choice," he said of the police department moving out if agreements aren't made. "It is not something that is going to happen overnight.
"It takes time to build the building, get the funding for the building, and where are you going to find the money at?"
But, Jones said the city needs to "exhaust all the possibilities" in lease negotiations with the county.
"That is the reason we built it in the first place is to keep everybody under the same roof — to make it more efficient," he said. "But, when it is costing 200-and-some-thousand a year, that is when it doesn't become efficient anymore."
Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said she is "certain" an agreement can be made "that addresses the concerns that the city has and the county has, and that includes the price, what is included in the price and how we can operate together."
"We will review the documents that we have in place and, based on comments from both the city and the county, see what needs to be reworked in those agreements," she said.
The sublease signed in 2002 states the city will pay rent in August 2011 based on a "fair division between all space users of the actual costs, including utilities of operating the building."
During the meeting Tuesday, the two sides discussed at length whether a percentage of the Moffat County Jail's operating costs should be included in the police department's lease.
Jones said he hopes to convince the county to leave the jail out of the lease, contending it was never part of the original intent when the safety center was built.
"I sat in the meetings when it was built," he said. "I was on council then. I know what the intent was and I have got a … whole folder from 1997 that I kept. That is one of my goals this weekend, to go through that and see what I can dig out."
Danner said she understands the county has a "very specific role with providing jail services."
"But, that entire center was put together with all of our public safety entities in one, and I intend to honor that intent," she said.