By working together, Craig and Moffat hope to accomplish more

Welcome to Craig sign on I-40 east of Craig, Colorado on December 17, 2021.
Photo by Billy Schuerman/For Craig Press

A pot of money and a renewed sense of urgency have prompted the town of Craig and the county of which it is the seat to work more closely together.

Moffat County Commissioners and Craig City Council are aiming for a “sooner rather than later” joint meeting that representatives from both bodies hope will become a regular practice. It’s partly because of the city and county’s intertwined destinies, partly because of the turning point in their shared histories that they find themselves in, and partly because of the multi-million dollars in outside funding they owe. decide how best to use.

“We have this money that has been or will be given to us,” County Commissioner Melody Villard said by phone this week. “How can we best use this to support our community in the future?”

After an informal conversation between Villard and City Manager Craig Peter Brixius in late January, Brixius spoke to council members at his last meeting about the possibility of increased communication and collaboration between the two elected bodies.

“The conversation is a priority with the city and the county, about not doing those who are in a bubble,” Villard said. “How do we share this communication? »

The board responded very favorably, with all members present noting how critical they thought this opportunity was to work together and row in the same direction, so to speak.

“What drove this was the (American Rescue Plan Act) funding, this potential pot of money that comes from the federal government into the area,” Craig Mayor Ryan Hess said by phone. “In what ways can we jointly use these funds to participate in certain projects? »

ARPA funds aren’t the only millions coming to the region. The county and city are expected to receive money individually from the federal government in ARPA and, presumably, future Build Back Better dollars, as well as the state’s Office of Just Transition.

“We’re a small community, and the city and the county are such an integral part of people’s lives,” Hess said. “If you live in town, you always use county services. And if you’re in the county, the city still affects you. The more we start working together and the more conversations we have on the same page, especially with multi-million dollar funding coming up, the best way to use those funds is to make sure we’re headed in the same direction .

Neither Villard nor Hess would identify specific agenda items that might appear on the role of the first meeting, hesitant to speak given the many other elected officials involved – two more for the county and six more for the city. But both were driven by the possibility of joining forces more intentionally.

“It’s so important right now to have priorities and know where we can line up and get the best value for money,” Villard said.

Hess, pointing out that the combination of the roughly $2 million each entity receives gives any joint effort greater buying power, not to mention more cohesive direction, said the money is just one part of the equation.

“If it seems like we’re a broken, ununified community, that’s not good for potential projects or developers,” Hess said. “It is also a wasted effort. Getting into an arm wrestle or going in opposite directions on a problem or project – or even going in different directions to come to the same conclusion – is what you fear. It’s mostly one-off things. It is not sustainable funding.

The uniqueness of the moment underscored the need to stick together. Functionally, it will look like public work sessions between the two full bodies – Hess and Villard both mentioned that drops and drops relayed to larger bodies from small group conversations are less effective than everyone else. world meeting face to face – in which unofficial decisions and directions can be made. Thereafter, in accordance with legal requirements, each body will vote on the appropriate measures in its own regular sessions.

“We have glaring holes in our portfolio,” Villard said. “There are services that we are not able to provide, and I think it is essential to be able to target these places.”

When it comes to exactly how to make it work, the details are less critical than the management, the two officials said.

“Just do it,” Villard said. “We need to schedule the time, make sure everyone can attend, and then hold the meeting. Once we’re there, we can discuss goals and thoughts, get feedback. We are all intelligent individuals, we can work well together and we can communicate. But do it.

Hess added another thought to this urgency for action.

“It must be pretty frequent too,” he said. “The interval cannot be just here and there. We have to be in a room, face to face. If there are any issues between us, discuss them and take them off the table. If there are things to work on, we have a short deadline. We have to start putting one foot in front of the other and start doing.

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