Craig, Moffat County officials discuss shared funding of libraries, museum
The city of Craig and Moffat County have initiated a discussion to jointly fund Craig’s Museum of Northwest Colorado and Moffat County Libraries.
At a workshop inside the county courthouse Wednesday, Commissioner Ray Beck met with Councilmen Chris Nichols and Brian MacKenzie along with other city and county staff to explore what a city-county partnership would look like in regard to keeping the community’s libraries and museum properly funded.
Moffat County’s libraries and its museum were defunded by commissioners in 2018 to the tune of about $1.1 million. A ballot initiative that would have funded the libraries and museum failed to pass in November.
Commissioner Don Cook said Tuesday some tough decisions had to be made about the budget and the library and museum cuts were to help the county’s financial standing.
“If you were looking into the future and you could see that the way you were currently running your business right now, you’d be broke,” Cook said. “Would you change your business?”
Craig resident Jayne Morley isn’t happy about commissioners’ decision to cut funding to the libraries and museum and has been making the rounds at city council and the courthouse requesting the funding be restored during the next budget talks. As the former financial coordinator for Tri-State Generation & Transmission, Morley said she knows the financial difficulties commissioners face and maintains they made the wrong decision.
“I hope you find a way to re-leverage your resources,” Morley said to commissioners Tuesday.
Dorris Zimmerman also attended the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday. Zimmerman doesn’t know why commissioners would ever consider defunding the community’s museum.
“I always felt like the commissioners didn’t support the museum very well, and I wonder what the reason is for that,” Zimmerman said.
She expressed dismay that commissioners would essentially discard the many charitable gifts that have made the museum what it is today.
“We have a lot of items of family history that are very precious to us, and we can’t get those back if you guys shut it down,” Zimmerman said.
At Wednesday’s joint services workshop, the museum’s Paul Knowles confirmed to the group the museum was surviving on reserves that might not last another year.
“Whatever happens, there’s also an immediacy that needs to be taken into consideration,” Knowles said Wednesday.
Commissioner Ray Beck said he’s heard from constituents who want the county to work with the city to properly fund libraries and the museum.
“I’ve heard from people in the community,” Beck said. “They really think this should be a joint county-city effort.”
Nichols expressed concern about whether the city could help make up some $1.1 million cut by the county.
“For us, for the city to take on $1.1 million would be extremely hard from the standpoint of, ‘where do we take the money from?’” Nichols asked.
MacKenzie seemed hopeful the city’s potential new marijuana ordinance could help fund the city’s possible portion of cut museum and library funding.
“I’d be all for earmarking some of that money for the museum and the library,” MacKenzie said.
The joint services group decided to bring their funding requests before their own budget workshops — the city’s being in September and the county’s in June.
“We’ll carry this forward,” Nichols said.
Two local Boy Scouts are making Craig’s Smoky Bear in front of the Bureau of Land Management Little Snake River field office better prepared to weather the elements.