LMD charts new course, says no to merger | CraigDailyPress.com

LMD charts new course, says no to merger

CRAIG — After months of being caught in limbo by discussions of a possible merger, the Moffat County Local Marketing District unveiled its own vision for the future to Craig City Council and Moffat County Board of County Commissioners this week.

The vision includes changes that would preserve the board’s independence from local politics and a proposal to hire an “economic champion” in early 2018.

LMD Board President Dave Fleming told council Tuesday that merging the three local economic development and tourism-related boards — LMD, Moffat County Tourism Association and Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership — wasn’t legally an option and offered another proposal for how the three groups can work more closely together.

“They have to stay separate in some capacity,” Fleming said. “Legally, you can’t merge them, so let’s find a way we can bring about better cooperation and more communication … so that we are all on the same forward-thinking plane.”

To that end, Fleming recommended city council appoint Luke Tucker, board chair for CMEDP, to fill its vacant seat on the seven-person LMD board.

He likewise recommended commissioners appoint Shannon Moore, board co-chair for MCTA, to fill its vacant seat.

The LMD board, which is funded by a voter-approved tax on the lodging industry, is overseen by Craig City Council, Moffat County commissioners and the Dinosaur Town Council, which are each responsible for appointing board members.

Two seats were vacated after the one-year appointments expired in August.

The LMD board also revealed a new, more detailed set of bylaws, which include a clause that would disqualify elected officials currently serving on city or town councils or the board of commissioners from serving as an LMD board member.

“I think this is closer to what I actually envisioned when I collected signatures,” said board member Dave DeRose on Monday during a special LMD meeting. “My whole idea was to create a revenue stream that is not controlled by new elected officials every two or three years, so that if they got upset, they could just take funding away. This keeps it in that realm and keeps that funding protected.”

Fleming and fellow LMD board member Roger Richmond echoed the sentiment to council and commissioners during Tuesday’s meetings.

Unbeknownst to the LMD board, Craig City Council had previously appointed Councilwoman Andrea Camp to temporarily fill that board’s vacant seat. Camp attended Monday’s meetings but abstained from voting.

Overall, the proposed plans would set the LMD on an ambitious course after finding itself stalled for months by rumors and discussions about the merger.

An action plan for the remainder of 2017 and 2018 include hiring an economic champion, or director, securing office space and exploring options with MCTA and CMEDP to share “costs of office space, staffing, projects and other overhead, while retaining classifications and benefits of each separate entity,” the action plan said.

The proposed plan also set forth committees that would lead efforts in four areas: community pride, marketing and tourism, economic development and broadband and funding review. The committees would be made up of both LMD board members and outside members, such as representatives from MCTA, CMEDP or other local community partners.

In 2018, the LMD budgeted $557,058 in revenue, more than half of which is being carried over from unused funds from 2016 and 2017.

Though elected officials stopped short of approving the recommended appointees and other proposals Tuesday, both commissioners and council members offered kudos to the new direction.

All three governing boards must approve the proposed plans, bylaws and budget before they can be formally adopted by the LMD.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1795 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.

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