Craig city officials optimistic safety center deal can get done

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Craig City Council member Gene Bilodeau said he and council member Don Jones were willing to compromise while negotiating a new lease with Moffat County for space in the Moffat County Public Safety Center.

“The negotiations have been somewhat arduous,” Bilodeau said Wednesday. “The point for us is if that’s what it takes to get something done and move forward, that’s what we want to do.”

The city and county are discussing a two-year deal — at a price of $60,000 per year — for the Craig Police Department to remain at the safety center, the same facility that houses the Moffat County Jail, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol.

Bilodeau informed the city council of the progress made in the negotiations during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

The council did not take formal action on the topic at the meeting, and Bilodeau said as of Wednesday no date has been set for another negotiating session.

Still, city council members expressed relief that some progress has been made on the issue, which has been unresolved for months.

“I’m excited something is moving forward in regards to that,” council member Joe Bird said. “It’s always exciting to see something move forward.”

The city’s current lease with the county expires in August.

The city has received free rent at the safety center for almost 10 years in exchange for providing for free the land on which the center was built.

Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner, who represents the county in the safety center negotiations, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Commissioners Tom Mathers and Tom Gray said the commission has not formally discussed the two-year deal with the city.

Bilodeau said the city council hoped to secure a long-term lease, anywhere from five to 10 years.

Mathers said one reason for the shorter lease is that the original lease indicates new lease agreements should be revisited every two years.

He said if the pending lease agreement works, it’s possible the next agreement could be longer.

Several council members, including Bird and Byron Willems, were optimistic about the shorter timeframe.

Willems said the time period could end up making a difference in the next set of negotiations.

“The county commissioners change every two years, so you may have a more palatable group of people,” he said. “Even though it’s just one (commissioner) changing, you never know, one person could make a huge difference.

“If we negotiate in two years, we may get the 10-year lease.”

Council member Jennifer Riley said she was OK with lease terms as they stand.

“It’s negotiation,” she said. “City council would like to pay less, the county would like us to pay more, so we’ve at least come to an agreement. It’s something we can both live with.”

Council member Ray Beck said he would prefer a three- to five-year lease, but it’s more important to him to keep law enforcement entities working together and under the same roof.

“We have all the law enforcement in one building, I think that’s important,” he said. “It’s working, so why fix it? It’s not broken, so we need to honor that.”

Mayor Terry Carwile said he is optimistic about negotiations moving forward.

“I would say we have the basic foundation for an agreement now,” Carwile said. “The devil will be in the details, but at least we’ve come to an agreement, albeit for a short term.”

Bilodeau said currently negotiators are working to make sure both sides agree on the basic terms.

He said when county commissioners discuss the issue, they’ll now have numbers to which the city council is agreeable.

“If (Danner) takes it to the county at $60,000 but the city really doesn’t like that, then what have we really accomplished?” Bilodeau said.

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