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The second time around

Commissioner completes first six months in office

Dan Olsen

— Moffat County commissioner Tom Mathers said his first six months in office have been very different from the first time he held the office 15 years ago.

Two meetings each month have changed to weekly meetings with the current administration, and the workload has increased accordingly.

“It is 10 times busier than last time,” Mathers said. “I’m working 50 hours some weeks with the meetings and phone calls, and just when you get caught up, you find yourself two weeks behind.”

Monday marked the first six months in office for public officials elected in November 2006.

Mathers said oil and gas exploration takes up a great deal of time for the commissioners, and the new Bureau of Land Management proposed plan to manage federal land in the county also has required numerous work hours.

Compared with the last time Mathers was in office, the staff at the county has increased in size, now with a budget analyst – Tinneal Gerber – and a natural resources director – Jeff Comstock.

“They are all very needed positions, but new positions since last time,” he said. “It’s amazing how much the county does to keep things going. They made me learn how to use a computer.”

As some things change, many others remain the same.

Mathers said the county and city were working on a buffer zone for future growth many years ago, and the process continues today.

He also recalls working on the last BLM Resource Management Plan, with many of the same issues being relevant back then that still are being discussed today.

A big difference from Mathers’ first term is the county currently is in much better financial shape.

“With Moffat County’s oil and gas and the coal industry, we’re in better financial shape than 15 years ago,” he said. “I feel comfortable about the boom going on. It’s not like in Parachute, when federal dollars created the boom. This is personal and business dollars developing the industry. They have a lot invested in it.”

Calling the commissioners plan to build a 40 percent reserve in the county budget “noteworthy” and “a good goal,” Mathers said achieving the 30 percent goal last year got the county on track, and economically things should level off once the buffer is achieved.

He noted the county’s effort to increase values of oil and gas leases has generated more revenue for the schools and fire district, as well as the county.

With the extra workload, Mathers has found little time to attend to some needed farm business, but he said he also has learned more about the county in the past six months then he did in his last four-year term.

“I’m just really comfortable with the way the county is going right now,” he said.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com


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