Editorial: Shepherds, no sheep
August 7, 2010
Craig City Council’s recent decision to split a water line cost with a private business development represents forward thinking and an economic-development friendly approach. Surprisingly, this progressive thinking isn’t embraced by another key governing body.
The Craig City Council tackled two items at its July 27 meeting, both of which hint at the council's desire to be proactive when it comes to much-needed economic development in the city.
The council voted, 5-1, to approve the first reading of a 6.9-percent lodging tax that will likely be placed before voters in November's general election. Council member Ray Beck was the lone vote of opposition, citing that he would rather support a 5.9-percent measure.
There was nothing unusual about the lodging tax action, given the proposal originated out of the council and most members have expressed support for the proposal since its' inception.
However, coupled with an approved action item somewhat less publicized, it could be viewed that the city council has now taken a more aggressive and forward-thinking approach to economic development.
At the same meeting, council members unanimously approved splitting the cost of a water line loop with MJK Sales & Feed at its new development site on First Street. The city's cost will not exceed $25,832.50.
The Editorial Board supports the council's decision to spend this small fraction of city funds to help a long-time local business expand into a new project. The return to the city in sales tax revenue from this new development should cover its miniscule investment several times over.
Partnered with the lodging tax proposal, the approved MJK water line expenditure indicates the council recognizes that these are uncertain economic times, and that a little investment now is a potential payday waiting to happen later.
In that regard, the council are acting as shepherds.
This stance isn't one adopted by the Moffat County Commission, which has foolishly stated through words or actions that its' philosophy is to do as little as possible to improve area economic development.
This was reinforced Tuesday at the Craig Daily Press/KRAI candidate forum when two sitting commissioners running for re-election said economic development is best left to the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and the Moffat County Tourism Association.
No mention of investing in business infrastructure, and no talk of generating revenue through creative proposals along the lines of the lodging tax.
Their message boiled down to, quite simply, doing what's always been done.
Certainly the candidacies of these two commissioners cannot be judged solely on their views regarding economic development, however, on this topic at least, they seem to be the sheep that have strayed far from the city's shepherd.
Hopefully one day, whether it's under the current commissioner body or the next, the county can be called successfully back to the flock.