Moffat County seeks savings through local partnerships | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County seeks savings through local partnerships

Lauren Blair

Some difficult changes could be in store as Moffat County looks to cut up to $2.5 million from its budget in the next year or two, but county commissioners hoped to engage the community in their process Tuesday at a Community Resource Meeting.

At least 100 local leaders, county employees and community members packed the fairgrounds pavilion to learn how the county is working to identify priorities and find savings through partnering with other local organizations to provide services.

"How can we discover and partner with other organizations in our own community who are pursuing the same societal objectives we are?" Commissioner Ray Beck asked as he set the stage for the speakers who followed.

The county is looking for opportunities not only to partner, but also to consolidate or merge services with other public and private entities, Beck said.

Speaker Chris Fabian, co-founder of the Center for Priority Based Budgeting and Resource Exploration, shared that Moffat County joins 26 other Colorado cities and counties — including Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, Boulder, Fruita and Clear Creek County — and 170 organizations nationwide in utilizing the priority based budgeting process.

A three-year grant awarded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs in December is funding the county's work with Fabian's organization at a cost of $14,500 to date, according to Moffat County Finance Director Mindy Curtis.

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The process includes inventorying all of the "programs" or services Moffat County performs and provides, such as snow removal. The county then defines costs for each program in terms of dollars and personnel, a process Moffat County has already completed, Fabian said.

The county also rates each program using criteria to define its value to the community, such as how it impacts economic vitality, safety, culture and recreation, and the health and well-being of citizens.

Englewood City Manager Eric Keck has implemented priority based budgeting twice — first in Idaho and now in Englewood — and shared how he saved Englewood millions of dollars by eliminating the municipal fire department and contracting for services from the Denver Fire Department.

He also warned local government leaders that change can be difficult and resistance can be expected, and emphasized the importance of communication to employees, the community and other stakeholders.

"Change can be painful, and it can be scary, but we need to communicate that in order for us to have a tomorrow, we need to look at these types of things," Keck said.

As a next step, Fabian offered to host a workshop between the county and local entities interested in finding partnership opportunities at a cost of $995 per organization, he said, or at a lesser cost for five or more entities.

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