City Council backs plan to allow Craig to impose public service hours in municipal court cases |

City Council backs plan to allow Craig to impose public service hours in municipal court cases

Eli Pace

Municipal offenses committed in Craig could soon come with a requirement that offenders perform useful public service work as they repay their debt to society.

Craig City Council unanimously supported an ordinance on first reading Tuesday, March 14, that would allow the city to sentence offenders to public service hours as a component of municipal court cases.

As city attorney Heather Cannon explained before City Council, there are a lot of public service requirements coming out of the different court systems, but the city’s municipal court isn’t currently able to sentence offenders to public service work without the local framework in place.

Cannon told council the goal of the proposed program is to nest the public service workers under a community service officer and use them to help abate certain properties, clean up trails and perform other useful jobs for the city.

Cannon said that because the program would have to be self-funded by statute, city officials plan to start charging offenders a small fee in accordance to the level of their public service hours.

Cannon said the city is considering charging offenders a $50 fee when they’re sentenced to 16 hours of public service or fewer, and a $100 fee for up to 24 hours of public service. The idea behind that is the money would pay for equipment like weed eaters or lawn mowers to ensure the workers have the tools they need and the program remains self-supported.

“I don’t know about funding the actual (community service officer) employees themselves, but that’s the goal behind making these modifications,” Cannon explained of the proposed ordinance.

Individual council members asked Cannon if the public service hours would be imposed in lieu of fines, and Cannon replied that that could be the case, but usually the public service hours would be in addition to other sentencing stipulations.

For example, Cannon said that if a student were caught vaping at school, that student could be charged with being a minor in possession of tobacco, and the penalty for that would normally be a small fine, educational classes and other requirements of that nature. However, public service hours would typically be imposed in addition to those other stipulations, she said.

“It’s really a good tool to use in addition to, but certainly, we do work with people if financially they are struggling and they would like to opt to do more public service versus a fine,” Cannon said.

City Council is expected to take up the ordinance on second reading at its next regular meeting.

In other business

  • City Council unanimously approved spending $28,930 to upgrade the police department’s EForce computerized systems. Craig Police Department Commander Doug Conrad told council the department has already rolled out the EForce system and the latest upgrade would allow officers to complete citations and summons from their vehicles, including printing copies for offenders and immediately transmitting that information to the municipal court after it’s complete. Conrad said the department budgeted $35,000 for the upgrade, but it came in below the anticipated cost.
  • City Council unanimously approved a proposed site plan for the property at 430 W. Victory Way, as the owner plans to erect a new two-story building to house a salon and spa, and a coffee shop with a drive-thru on the ground floor with showers and storage on the second floor. The Planning and Zoning Commission previously reviewed the request and recommended passage with a few stipulations pertaining to the exterior aesthetics of the proposed building because it is at a major intersection.
    According to a memo to City Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission requested the applicant resubmit the building designs with additional information, including awnings over the lower windows and exterior doors and stone wainscotting that matches the stone on the corners instead of metal.
  • During council’s updates, council member Tom Kleinschnitz said the Moffat County Local Marketing District has awarded Yampa Valley Brewing $3,900 to put on three concerts at Alice Pleasant Park in downtown Craig this summer. The concerts are scheduled for June 3, July 7 and Aug. 4. Additionally, the marketing district recently awarded Northwest Colorado Trails $3,000 to market a race series at the moto track.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.