Moffat County commissioners approve funding for Open Heart Advocates |

Moffat County commissioners approve funding for Open Heart Advocates

Moffat County commissioners discuss an agenda item during a Board of County Commissioners meeting at the Moffat County Courthouse in 2019.
Craig Press File

With the April 25 deadline for funding just over a month away, some clarity is starting to show for Open Heart Advocates thanks to a decision made Tuesday morning by the Board of County Commissioners.

Following the decision by Memorial Regional Health’s Board of Trustees to stop funding Open Heart Advocates on April 25, Craig City Councilors and Moffat County Commissioners came together to try and figure out a plan to fund the advocacy program.

On Tuesday, Moffat County Commissioners Ray Beck, Don Cook, and Donald Broom approved funding of up to $6,200 a month, pushing Open Heart Advocates one step closer to necessary funding to remain open through the rest of 2020. City Council will decide on March 24 at their next meeting.

MRH Chief Executive Officer Andy Daniels had previously asked the city and the county for $6,250 a month in funding through the rest of 2020 to keep the agency — which serves more than 21 percent of the community in Moffat County and the City of Craig — afloat until a potential grant of $435,000 would kick in Jan. 1, 2021, should OHA be awarded that large grant.

Through the approval of up to $6,200 monthly to OHA from the county, Commissioner Beck asked that OHA provide periodic updates regarding spending.

“If we do decide to fund this organization, I would like to pay by the month, rather than give them one lump sum” Commissioner Beck said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We don’t know what that’s going to look like at the end of the day, or if that funding is going to come from grant money.

“And that would the be the other thing that I’d suggest, is that if they do get grant money, whatever they get offsets what we’re using taxpayer money for,” Commissioner Beck added. “I would also like to suggest that if we approve funding, we get updates periodically from the program and learn how they’re spending the money.”

During the OHA discussion Tuesday morning, Commissioner Cook questioned the exact figure OHA was looking for from each entity. One report had OHA asking for $4,400, while Commissioner Beck was told $6,200.

When the motion was made to approve funding, Commissioners Beck and Cook made sure that the wording of “up to $6,200” was in the motion, meaning the county will fund OHA monthly with up to $6,200, but no more than that. In total, the county will fund more than $56K to OHA through the rest of 2020.

Additionally, Commissioner Cook said that now that funding has been approved from the county’s side, commissioners need to do all that they can to push for grants for OHA moving forward.

“We can commit to funding them through the rest of the year, but as commissioners and elected officials, we need to try and get the grants back in place,” Commissioner Cook said. “They’re withholding these grants from this program for something that happened years ago; it’s not fair. Meghan [Francone, OHA Executive Director] is running a really good program.”

According to Commissioner Beck, following multiple attempts to get help from the state, the Attorney General’s office declined to help fund OHA. Commissioner Beck said he’ll continue to push at the state level to make sure the much-needed resource for Moffat County stays in operation.

Now that the county has approved funding, the next decision comes from City Council, which meets next on Tuesday, March 24.

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