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Front Page » November 15, 2007 » Local News » Projects run into Special Services funding blockade
Published 2,884 days ago

Projects run into Special Services funding blockade

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Artist Jim Young created the plaque hanging at the new ballfield, the one he is working on for the events center will also feature depictions of gas workers and coal miners.

A $2 million shortfall results in moratorium on all new applications

New playground equipment for the City of Wellington and a county art piece came up against a funding roadblock at Tuesday's Recreation/Transportation Special Service District meeting.

Wellington City Councilman Ed Chavez approached the district with a $30,000 funding request to replace the city's playground equipment. He was accompanied by a representative of Gametime Playground Equipment who said Wellington was granted a matching grant from his company.

District Boardmember Bill Krompel went to bat for the proposal as he presented a collaborative approach to providing the money as quickly as possible. He said that the county would be willing to front the money if it could get a guarantee the special service district would reimburse the county budget.

"We've done this for other cities including Sunnyside," he said. "Their (Wellington's) playground equipment is as old if not older than Sunnyside's. So in the spirit of evenhandedness we would like to see this happen."

Adding to the urgency of the request was the time constraints placed on the matching grant from Gametime. Taft Egan, the company's representative told the district board members that if the project is not funded until next year that about 52 percent of the grant money would be lost.

Despite Egan's caveat, the district board members appeared to have their hands tied by the six month moratorium they declared on new applications when they discovered a $2 million shortfall in their 2007 budget in July.

According to Linda Ballard, administrator for the district, the shortage was precipitated by funding of a number of large projects for the county.

"The commissioners had come to us with quite a few different projects and everything had overruns that needed to be covered, we ended up $2 million short," she said.

A board member questioned why if the matching grant deadline was looming did Chavez wait so long to come to the district. Krompel responded that Chavez had been actively pursuing the application for awhile and had come up against the moratorium.

"He has been over here quite a few times," said Krompel.

Despite having their hands tied by the moratorium several board members expressed support of the concept.

"I'm telling you I would support this," said Boardmember Neil Breinholt. " But I can't vote on it now. There's just no way we consider it with the moratorium."

The board eventually asked Chavez to go back to the City of Wellington and see if there isn't someway the city can front the money until the beginning of the year.

A motion was made that the project be brought back as a new application at the beginning of the 2008 fiscal year in January.

Artist Jim Young, who sat through the discussion about Wellington, stepped up to the board definitely forewarned.

He was seeking approval of his application to complete a 9-foot art piece that will grace the wall of the new Carbon County Event Center located at the Carbon County Fairgrounds.

Like the Wellington proposal, Young's also had a strong proponent on the board. Sam Quigley argued passionately for the work to go foreward.

"I personally believe we have a beautiful facility out there," he said. "And I also believe in 30 years when that facility is torn down that the only thing of real value left will be the art work done by our own local artist."

Krompel seconded the importance of the work reminding the board that the money they are able to disseminate comes from the energy industry and that too many of those projects aren't reflecting that and that Young's piece will bear the faces of both the gas and coal industries.

Despite the passionate pleas in the end the board was faced with the same situation as the Wellington project.

"We still have to wait until next year," said Boardmember Tom Bruno.

However, Young's outcome was a wee bit different than Chavez' as the artist said that he had enough materials already to start the piece and that he wouldn't need any money upfront.

The Recreation/Transportation Special Service District will hold a public hearing on the 2008 budget, at the district's Dec. 2 meeting.

For more information call Linda Ballard at 636-3263.

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