Moffat County Commissioners cut back emergency manager position
January 5, 2017
Craig — The Board of Moffat County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 Wednesday to cut back the position of Emergency Services Coordinator from full-time to 20 hours per week for a savings of about $27,000, according to Commissioner Frank Moe.
The fate of the position has been uncertain since commissioners first discussed shifting it under the umbrella of the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and repurposing the position as half-time sheriff's deputy and half-time emergency management. The rearrangement was even confirmed in the 2017 budget approved in December, but commissioners took a different course Wednesday.
"We had made the offer of paying for the (law enforcement) training where it would still be part-time deputy sheriff, part-time emergency manager, so it would end up being a full-time position," Moe said. "That was the first avenue that we pursued."
But, Emergency Services Coordinator Tom Soos shared at Wednesday's meeting that he didn't think it was realistic to go through the semester-long training and certifications — known as Peace Officer Standards and Training certification — required for him to serve as a part-time sheriff's deputy.
"Going through POST certification at my age isn't a realistic expectation, and it just wouldn't do any good for anyone," Soos said. "I'm 58… and we wouldn't get that many years out of my POST certification anyway."
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The position previously resided under the direction of the Sheriff's office, and was classified as a part-time position until it became full time in 2013 under the oversight of the county commissioners.
State statute requires that every county designate an emergency manager, though in the absence of a paid position, an elected official can hold the designation. The state also reimburses counties up to 50 percent of the cost of maintaining an Office of Emergency Management. Moffat County reaps the full 50 percent reimbursement so long as it meets certain performance requirements.
Moe and Commissioner John Kinkaid voted in favor of cutting back the position, while Commissioner Chuck Grobe voted against it. It was the last meeting for both Grobe and Kinkaid, with two new commissioners taking their seats starting Tuesday.
"I think it makes our community weaker in the case of an emergency," Grobe said. "He was a 20-hour person before and he wasn't getting the work done. As more regulations, as more things came out to make our community safer… why go back to that, especially with the state paying 50 percent?
But as commissioners look to close a $14 million projected budget deficit over the next five years, the position was one of the first to land on the chopping block.
"It's extremely tough," Moe said. "All this has been created by the situation in the reduction of our tax base — our property taxes, our severance taxes, our minerals and all of that, and we're having to deal with it."