Craig City Council deadlocks on budget decision, will try to pass budget in December
CRAIG — The 2019 City of Craig Proposed Budget failed to pass second and final reading when city council members brought it to a vote during their meeting Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Two weeks prior, when the first reading of the budget was up for adoption, council approved the measure four votes to three, but when the motion was made to approve it on second and final reading Tuesday, the council was once again divided. This time, in the absence of Mayor John Ponikvar, who was out of the county, the vote was deadlocked. Ponikvar had cast the deciding vote on first reading.
Council members Tony Bohrer, Joe Bird, and Jarrod Ogden maintained positions they took on first reading and voted against adoption. Council members Chris Nichols, Andrea Camp, and Mayor Pro Tem Derek Duran also maintained their support, voting in favor of adopting the budget.
The sticking point is the inclusion of a new City Department of Economic Development, which is opposed by Bohrer, Bird, and Ogden.
Downtown business owner Yvonne Gerber agreed with their opposition, voicing her thoughts during the public comments period.
“I have watched the city and county combine to help fund economic development with no visible results,” she said. “I feel that, for the city to put this department in and fund it at $100,000, is another waste of money.”
Gerber said she wasn’t sure how to better promote the city, but suggested that boosting the city’s appearance and community perception, funding the Museum of Northwest Colorado, and fixing “facilities that we already have in our community” would be wiser decisions than spending money on “something we are unsure what the results are going to be.”
Ogden thanked Gerber for attending the meeting and sharing her thoughts.
“I’ve heard a lot of different things, most to be honest, not for it,” Ogden said. “I agree there is a lot that we could invest in this community that could stand a facelift or a breath of fresh air.”
The council will now have to hold another second reading of the budget.
Asked what would happen if council is unable to come to an agreement on the budget during the next meeting, City Attorney Sherman Romney said members would have to come up with compromises to pass it or hold a special meeting to vote again. The budget must be passed by Dec. 15 to meet statutory deadlines.
Romney noted that, while council members are not allowed to vote on the budget line-by -line, they are able to amend it to help arrive at a compromise.
“Regardless of the position we take on the Economic Development Department, I think the city council needs to contribute and have specific projects,” Camp said during her report.
She said she would like council to discuss using part of about $350,000 earmarked for improvement projects to create a grant program.
The program, similar to one in the town of Meeker, would provide matching dollars to businesses looking to upgrade and expand, Camp said.
During council member reports, it was announced that, on Dec. 4, Nichols and Duran will attend a Joint Services Work Group city staff and County Commissioner Ray Beck.
The group formed about six weeks ago to consider a list of ideas to combine services.
“We are trying to work on developing the viability of each of the discussion items,” Nichols said. “You will hear more about the activities after the second meeting.”
While he and Duran both said no decisions were yet being made, if the city and county were to combine services, it would have an impact on both budgets.
It is not clear if the Dec. 4 meeting will be open to the public.
City Council is expected to meet again on Dec. 11.
Residents were encouraged to attend to speak their views on the budget or any item on the agenda during public comments at the beginning of the meeting or on any issue at the end of the meeting.
Council members also took action on the the following.
o Minutes of the Nov. 13 meeting were approved.
o A consent agenda including renewal of tavern liquor licenses for O.P. Bar N Grill Inc., dba O.P. Bar N Grill, located at 534 E. Victory Way, and J.W. Snack’s LLC, dba J.W. Snack’s Gulf Coast Bar & B-Que, located at 210 E. Victory Way, as well as a renewal for a 3.2 percent beer (off premises) liquor license for Kum and Go LLC, dba Kum & Go #901, located at 895 Yampa Ave. No cause was shown for denial of any of these liquor licenses.
Prior to the vote, Nichols asked about enforcement and learned that the state of Colorado had made checks in Steamboat Springs and Craig in October, during which they discovered two violations in Steamboat and one in Craig.
“It hasn’t been a big priority due to staffing levels,” Craig Police Chief Jerry DeLong said. “We could do more as far as enforcement goes. Sometimes, we are reactive. We’ve been lucky not to have bad things happen outside of the normal.”
After the vote to approve all licenses, J.W. Snack’s owner Danny Griffith expressed his gratitude for the approval.
“We don’t take having a liquor license lightly so I came to say thank you,” he said.
o First reading of Ordinance No. 1081, amending sections 13.48.010 and 13.16.010 of the Craig Municipal Code to increase the water and wastewater rates, was approved. A public hearing will be offered before second reading and adoption of the ordinance. Read the Craig Press next week for more information about this ordinance.
o Resolution No. 10, supporting an application for local parks and outdoor recreation planning grant from the State Board of the Great Outdoors Colorado for Breeze Park Development Project Phase II, was approved.
City funds needed to match the grant are part of the 2019 Proposed Budget, which was not approved, prompting Nichols to make a motion to table the decision until the Dec. 11 meeting. His motion was not seconded. A motion to approve the application was made and approved by consent of the majority of the council.
o A bid for a three-wheeled broom street sweeper from Faris Machinery, for $203,559, and a bid from Ambient H2O for Phase I of the turbidimeters replacement program, for $33,612, where both approved.
o An Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program application from the Department Of Local Affairsfor 2019 water disinfection system improvements and a second application for 2019 Roundbottom ground storage water system improvements were approved.
o The submission of a letter in support of Peabody Twentymile Coal, LLC Federal Coal Lease COC-78449, was approved.
o Council members received an update from Chad Paulson, a consultant with SGM, a firm providing engineering services and projects for the city of Craig. Paulson provided a summary of the work done this year, primarily to bring the city into compliance with state standards. A full report for each project, the amount spent to-date, and the progress made was provided as part of council packets, available to the public on the city of Craig website.
o Council members also amended the agenda to allow Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Michelle Perry to present an update on the Moffat County Broadband Initiative. Perry spoke about recent decisions by the Broadband Initiative that will see the conclusion of its efforts to bring broadband to Craig and Moffat County. Yampa Valley Electric Association now plans to build an open access system within the service area that will provide broadband directly to residences.
YVEA’s decision prompted the city to withdraw a $1 million DOLA grant application, which would have helped pay for development of a municipally owned broadband backbone internet services providers could use to deliver service to residential customers.
City Manager Peter Brixius said DOLA officials told him the city would have received the grant. Withdraw the application allows other communities to access energy impact funds.
“Showing that we could make it (a municipal broadband network) cash flow … gained a lot of attention,” Perry said. She added that YVEA would be able to utilize much of the information developed by the MCBI. She also reported that YVEA CEO Steve Johnson has materials on order so YVEA can begin construction of its system early in 2019, with marketing to association member customers expected in February 2019.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.