Local governments continue safety center talks | CraigDailyPress.com

Local governments continue safety center talks

Brian Smith

The Craig City Council and Moffat County Commission are continuing to discuss the Craig Police Department's lease of the Moffat County Public Safety Center.

Council member Gene Bilodeau outlined to other council member Tuesday a recent meeting between the city and county concerning the possible rent or purchase of the police department's space in the center.

Bilodeau said he and Craig Mayor Don Jones went into the meeting prepared to start discussions of a short-term lease of the department's space, since the two sides seemed to be "deadlocked."

Weeks ago, the Craig City Council rejected the county's offer for a one-time purchase price for the police department's space totaling $1.083 million.

Jones said the city could not afford more than $736,120 for the police department's 2,258 square feet of exclusive office space and 3,000 square feet of shared space in the center.

Jones said he wanted to explore the construction of a new building to house the police department, and in the meantime, meet with the county to draft a new, short-term lease of the police department's space.

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Bilodeau said Tuesday, however, county officials mentioned they would like to continue discussing the city purchasing space.

Bilodeau said the county suggested the city provide services to the county in exchange for the price difference.

"There is a belief (by) the county … that we can somehow get closer to one another by the city primarily looking at what services we might be able to offer in exchange in lieu of that cash," he said.

Bilodeau said the details of what those services may be are unclear, but the city would listen to the county's offer.

"In the spirit of trying to work something out, we are waiting for what that might look like," he said.

Jones said such an offer is "already over and above what we already said no to."

"I'm not sure what services we can offer," he said gesturing to the various department heads in the council chambers.

"I'm not sure what they'll come back with, but we promised to talk."

Council member Terry Carwile said he thought an exchange of services was "not relevant to the topic at hand."

"I don't want to prejudice your view on what they are going to present because I have no idea what they intend," he said. "I'll have to look at it, but, like I said, I'm not enthusiastic about it."

Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said Thursday she felt the two sides have not explored all the options available to keep the department in the safety center.

"We committed to Don and Gene … that we would explore all options to do this at a fair and reasonable price," she said. "Then, when we moved from rent to purchase, we would continue with fair and reasonable price and to keep all entities together and to keep the relationship together."

Danner said the county has not determined what services it may propose to the city.

"It was discussed by both sides in our negotiating team that sometimes a service costs you less and it is worth more to someone else," she said.

During the council's Tuesday meeting, council member Joe Herod said he felt an exchange of services "is still asking us to pay $1.08 million."

Jones said he thought the council should pull the purchase offer off the table and go back to lease negotiations.

Council member Jennifer Riley agreed.

"Great, then let's go back to our original offer of operating (expenses), which was our portion of utilities plus some maintenance," she said.

Jones noted to the council that Danner said the figure of $256,591 was not the lease price the county was asking for when negotiations started a few months ago.

"So, I explained to her that I was pretty sure there were seven people on council that thought the $256,000 was the asking price," he said.