Moffat County tourism, economic development boards consider joining forces | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County tourism, economic development boards consider joining forces

Lauren Blair

Craig Daily Press

Efficiency is top of mind in strapped economic times as local officials explore the idea of merging the boards of three tourism and economic development-related organizations in Moffat County.

The Local Marketing District, Moffat County Tourism Association and Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership already share related missions with some overlap in funding sources.

However, both LMD and MCTA are funded by specific lodging taxes with statutory requirements on how the funds are spent, and merging the boards would require some careful legal and financial organization to ensure the taxpayers' wishes were being honored.

"We're tasked with how it can morally, ethically and legally be done," said Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe. "The whole concept is taking the funds, connecting them with the staff and having a community plan and getting it done."

For Moe, the idea stemmed from questions and suggestions he was hearing in the community, and the end goal is to create more focus and impact with the limited dollars available for tourism and economic development.

"MCTA has a budget of $144,000. LMD has about $250,000," explained Tom Kleinschnitz, director of MCTA. "That's peanuts. We need to work very hard to make sure every one of those dollars (counts)."

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The goal is also to better connect the funding sources with staffing — LMD has the biggest pot and most reliable funds but no staff, while CMEDP has the most staff but the smallest funding pool, most of which comes from the city and county.

"I think everybody's main concern is trying to make the best use of the dollars that are available for economic development going forward, for marketing and tourism and those kinds of things, so any discussion to talk about ways to do those better is good," said Dave Fleming, LMD Board President.

City and county attorneys are currently examining the legal ramifications of the idea, and discussions with the three boards and organizational staff are only just beginning.

The mission is to diversify the economy, period," Kleinschnitz said. "We need to stay away from silos and if merging is a great idea, let's get it done. If it's going to be too harmful to get our missions done, then let's work together."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1795 and follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.