John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

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November 28, 2012
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Garfield County Air Show may be unfunded for 2013

GLENWOOD SPRINGS - County commissioners are proposing to turn the popular Garfield County Air Show in Rifle into an every-other-year event, rather than funding the show annually.

Although the commissioners won't formally decide whether to remove the approximately quarter-million dollar event from the 2013 Garfield County budget until Dec. 10, the air show was one of several cuts proposed in a recent round of budget talks that concluded Monday.

"Nothing has been approved yet, but the commissioners have completed their line item review and we do have a balanced budget proposal," County Manager Andrew Gorgey said Tuesday.

Meetings with the various county department heads and other elected officials have also been taking place since October in an effort to review and refine the different departmental budgets, Gorgey said.

The air show took place this past July at the Garfield County Regional Airport in Rifle for a second straight year following a one-year hiatus in 2010. The event received $260,000 from the county's 2012 discretionary economic development fund.

Commissioners, during a series of budget sessions this month, did tentatively decide to try to fund the air show only every other year, leaving the event unfunded for 2013, Gorgey said.

That decision will not be final, however, until the commissioners formally approve the 2013 budget at the regular Dec. 10 Garfield Board of County Commissioners meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Silt Firehouse.

This year's air show drew a large crowd and was touted as significant contributor to the Rifle-area economy, as well as a showcase of the recent improvements at the county airport. However, funding of the event from the county's economic development fund was criticized during the recent election campaign for two county commissioner seats.

Incumbent commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson, who supported county funding for the air show, were both re-elected to new four-year terms on Nov. 6.

County officials have been putting the finishing touches on a proposed 2013 budget of a approximately $120 million. The budget includes an approximately $49 million general fund for county operations, in addition to the separate road and bridge, health and human services, and various other funds.

The proposed budget would also draw down the county's various fund balances from about $113 million currently to around $100 million.

Still included in the budget for next year is about $77,000 for the county to hire a new community development coordinator within the building and planning department. However, the county will postpone hiring the new position for the time being, Gorgey said.

"We have conducted interviews and did have several quality applicants who responded," Gorgey said. "But we still want to look at this a little further.

"We are hoping to find someone with a more conventional economic development background, and most of our applicants came from a more traditional city or county planning department background," he said. "You can think of it as a measure twice, cut once approach to this new position."

Gorgey said the county will continue to pursue some aspects of its economic development goals and meet with business groups during the first quarter of 2013 before opening the interview process again for the position.

The new community development coordinator, or liaison, is proposed to work with other local governments, federal and state agencies, local businesses and economic development groups to "manage the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of economic development programs in the county," according to the job description.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Nov 28, 2012 05:56AM Published Nov 28, 2012 05:53AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.