Our View: Craig and Moffat County should help finance YVDP
Renee Campbell: Newspaper representative
Noelle Leavitt Riley: Newspaper representative
Sheli Steele: Newspaper representative
Christina Oxley: Community representative
Brenda Elsbree: Community representative
This week, Yampa Valley Data Partners asked Moffat County Commissioners and Craig City Council for funding in an effort to stay afloat.
YVDP provides monthly Fast Facts on employment, industry trends, wages, real estate and energy production news for Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties. It recently compiled the Moffat County Vision 2035 report, the 2012 Moffat County leakage study, an evaluation of the impacts the coal industry has on our local economy and prints the extremely valuable Community Indicators Report every two years.
The organization operates an $88,000 annual budget. It’s gotten thousands from Routt and Rio Blanco counties, but Moffat County only contributed $1,000 in 2015, and the city of Craig hasn’t given YVDP any funds in the last two years.
YVDP Executive Director Keith Kramer told the commissioners and council that his organization is desperate for money, and it’s unclear if the organization will survive without help from our elected officials.
The commissioners basically shot down Kramer’s request. Commissioner Chuck Grobe said he’s hesitant to allocate the requested funds, stating that it encourages other groups to ask for money.
That’s a fallacy of an argument because groups have a right to ask the commissioners for funding at any time. These are our tax dollars and citizens are perfectly welcome to ask the county to fund important projects, organizations or events throughout the entire year. It’s the commissioners’ responsibility to evaluate requests
In addition, this request isn’t something new. YVDP has received an annual funding allocation from the county for many years, at one time at the $20,000 level.
It’s disappointing that our city and county are the only elected bodies that are not funding YVDP when our councilors and commissioners use YVDP data and reports to talk about our economic drivers and the importance of our coal industry. YVDP-provided information is often referenced as Moffat County evaluates its economic diversification and long-term needs. It is provided to those looking to relocate and is critical for start-up businesses and in recruiting new businesses.
The commissioners and city council should pay for a service they use, especially now that it’s funded mainly by Rio Blanco and Routt counties. If it weren’t for the data provided by YVDP we would not have been able to tout our coal economy when our county was at risk of losing Colowyo Coal Mine.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Councilmember Joe Bird said that we’re riding the coattails of other counties that are funding YVDP, and he’s right.
Councilmember John Ponikvar said you can’t measure your economy without solid data, something he learned at the National Associations of Counties workshop he recently attended in Grand Junction.
We agree with Bird and Ponikvar. Now, let’s see them put their money where their mouths are, and give YVDP the money they need to remain in existence.
We may be far into our budget year, but YVDP could be at risk of shutting down this year if we don’t step up and pay for a service that we use and that benefits all of Moffat County.
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