Routt County will leave the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Routt County Board of Commissioners said Tuesday the county will leave the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.
Each of the Routt County commissioners said the group no longer effectively represents the views and interests of the county, and the other programs it facilitates for the county could be replaced.
“I don’t think that the membership of the organization aligns with the views of Routt County and the residents and best interests of Routt County going forward,” said Commissioner Beth Melton. “I don’t think there is any way around that.”
Commissioners have foreshadowed this decision for a few weeks, making strong statements against the lobbying efforts and their experience working with the group. The main issue for commissioners is the group’s support to preserve mineral extraction and energy production in Northwest Colorado, a goal they believe the county does not share and is sometimes lobbying against.
Commissioner Tim Corrigan said they would allow another two days for any last public comment on the issue to come in before directing staff to not pay the membership dues for the group. Melton suggested they should send a letter to the group officially withdrawing as a member.
The county won’t be able to immediately sever ties with the group as AGNC will continue to be the administrator of the local economic development district and an enterprise zone that both include Routt County. This will likely require the county to work with AGNC to advocate for the county as part of these when the programs need to be reauthorized.
“We are in that district, and they can’t just kick us out,” Melton said. “However, around reauthorization — obviously, there is not going to be as much incentive for AGNC to advocate for Routt County’s continued participation in those districts if we are not a dues-paying member.”
Corrigan said he did not anticipate “any immediate disadvantage to those entities in our community that are availing themselves of those opportunities.”
AGNC also runs the local Area Agency on Aging, which the county is required to be a part of and provides a variety of services for seniors in the county.
“I think we are going to have to do some work to replace these services,” Commissioner Tim Redmond said.
Commissioners signaled a willingness to continue to pay AGNC for the administrative work it does to maintain services for seniors. There will likely need to be some negotiations to figure out what fees AGNC may require for administrative work around the development district and enterprise zone.
Commissioners have discussed joining the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, which includes several other counties with resort communities and the city of Steamboat Springs as members, but they did not address that Tuesday.
“I know that this decision will place AGNC in probably a more difficult situation economically, but I think that the needs of our citizens outweigh the needs of that organization,” Corrigan said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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