City to discuss Visitor Center tonight | CraigDailyPress.com

City to discuss Visitor Center tonight

Moffat County Commission plans to hold workshop later this week

Collin Smith

— Mayor Don Jones voluntarily spent this summer pulling weeds at the Moffat County Visitor Center, which is one of the in-kind services the city provides there.

Before a decision is made to scrap the Center for a year or more, Jones wants the rest of the Craig City Council to look at the problems the Visitor Center is facing at the Council’s meeting tonight.

“I am a (Craig) Chamber (of Commerce) member, and I’m just looking to inform the rest of the Council about what’s going on over there,” Jones said.

The Chamber runs the Visitor Center out of its building on East Victory Way, but the Chamber Board of Directors Budget Committee projects a $14,000 deficit if the group keeps funding Visitor Center personnel at the current rate.

The Chamber now is looking for extra funds from organizations that contribute to the Visitor Center, which are the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the city of Craig, Moffat County and the Moffat County Tourism Association.

The city currently contributes $7,500, in addition to the voluntary services.

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Councilor Rod Compton agreed the Visitor Center must be saved.

“I think it would be tragic if we lost the Visitor Center, because it’s a key entry into this community,” Compton said. “It would be definitely worth our while to investigate what we can do to make sure it remains available to tourists.

“I think everybody on the Council feels it is very important for the community.”

The Moffat County Commission has said it will help the Chamber seek additional funding from the DOW and BLM. That is seen as a long-term solution because of the time it takes to process a request like that, Chamber Executive Director Christina Currie said.

For next year’s funding, the Commission granted a workshop meeting with the Chamber. The Chamber requested representatives from MCTA also attend.

The workshop is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the upstairs conference room in the County Courthouse.

MCTA is focusing on taking direction in its marketing and advertising campaign abroad and wants to spend its money for that purpose, board President Tammie Thompson-Booker said.

Her board gave the Chamber its best guesstimate for what it could afford to contribute to the Visitor Center in 2008, and upped its funding from $8,000 to $10,000.

If MCTA has a budget surplus from higher-than-expected lodging tax revenue, it would be “more than willing” to see what else it can offer the Chamber, Thompson-Booker said.

“We are a tax-based entity, and we won’t know how our fund finally came out until early February or March,” she said.

The Chamber is a membership-driven organization, and if it needs money, it should look to its members, Thompson-Booker added.

In the three years the MCTA president has been a Chamber member, dues have never increased, she said.

Thompson-Booker also questioned why MCTA should contribute more dollars when it already contributes more than any other single entity besides the Chamber, and has a smaller budget than the city, county or federal government bodies.

“We’re funding them more money this year,” Thompson-Booker said. “We’ve already upped our ante, and I’m not sure why it falls to us” to pay the difference.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or at cesmith@craigdailypress.com

If you go

What: The Craig City Council meeting, where it will discuss the future of the Moffat County Visitor Center

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Craig City Hall