Craig mayor: City can have successful 2011 |

Craig mayor: City can have successful 2011

Craig Mayor Don Jones speaks Wednesday night at the Craig Chamber of Commerce’s State of the County 2011 event at the Holiday Inn of Craig. Jones said that the city’s outlook for this year is “cautiously optimistic.”
Ben McCanna

Craig Mayor Don Jones speaks Wednesday night at the Craig Chamber of Commerce’s State of the County 2011 event at the Holiday Inn of Craig. Jones said that the city’s outlook for this year is “cautiously optimistic.”
Ben McCanna

In his State of the City address Wednesday night, Craig Mayor Don Jones said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the city’s outlook this year.

“Despite the unexpected reduction in sales tax revenue, the City of Craig ended 2010 no worse for the wear,” Jones said to the crowd during the Craig Chamber of Commerce’s State of the County 2011 event. “The city continues to operate within its budget and with very minimal staff reduction to the services provided to the community.”

Among the reasons for optimism is the role Colorado Northwestern Community College plays in the city, the mayor said.

“CNCC has been a valuable partner to this community and will have an integral role in this community’s future,” he said.

“As CNCC and the Moffat County School District continue to face the grim reality of statewide budget cuts, this community needs to remember the resources, education and individual development CNCC and the Moffat County School District has provided Craig and Moffat County’s citizens.”

He said optimism also stems from community partnerships developed to promote the city. He specifically mentioned a partnership between Wyman Museum, The Memorial Hospital and Craig Daily Press to bring a barbecue competition and visitors to the city.

The mayor also brought up the annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous and the creation of a virtual tour of the event, which was created through a partnership between the Daily Press, Craig Parks and Recreation, Yampa GEO, and private businesses and citizens, he said.

Another reason Jones said he is hopeful for the city this year stems from efforts made recently through intra-organizational meetings designed to identify obstacles facing the community.

He cited examples such as the school district’s invitation for the Craig City Council to participate in its strategic planning session, United Way’s roundtable discussions, and a town hall meeting hosted by the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership to discuss the community’s economic development plan.

But, while Jones is confident of positive things happening for the city in 2011, he also said he’s being cautious with his enthusiasm.

“The uncertainty in the economy threatens Craig’s stability,” he said, noting increasing fuel prices and legislative action that threatened the local coal industry last year.

However, he encouraged residents not to confuse caution with fear.

“Caution creates awareness whereas fear creates hysteria,” the mayor said. “The city is aware of these obstacles and understands the importance of addressing these obstacles in the short- and long-term.”

In his speech, Jones also addressed the city’s negotiations with the Moffat County Commission regarding the Moffat County Public Safety Center. He said the city was surprised with the county’s decision to negotiate the matter through a column in the Saturday Morning Press.

“Decisions that involve hundreds of thousands of dollars from the current budget and the allocation and use of millions of tax dollars over the past 10 years involve in-depth negotiations, explanations, and education,” he said.

“The citizens of Craig deserve and should expect the city council members to exercise such diligence before agreeing to proposals casually presented in the Saturday paper.”

Regarding sales tax, Jones noted that 2010 revenue was $300,000 below the city’s projected budget.

He said the shortfall was offset by revenue the state had not properly dispersed to the city.

Jones said the city was able to offer residents “top-level services” and make modest capital improvements despite budget constraints.

He credited city manager Jim Ferree for his help in getting funds from the state’s Department of Local Affairs to help offset capital improvement costs.

Jones ended his Wednesday night speech thanking Craig residents for his time as mayor.

“I thank you for your support, kind words and constructive criticism,” he said. “This community is unique and special to all of us.

“It’s time to steer this community to what it can be and ignore what this community can’t be.”

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