Glenwood City Council votes to rejoin Associated Governments of Northwest Colo.
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The city of Glenwood Springs is once again a member of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, after City Council voted 6-1 to rejoin the group.
“I think the cost is minimal, and I think there are some definite benefits that we can derive from joining this organization,” said councilman Matthew Steckler.
AGNC Executive Director Aron Diaz spoke to and answered questions from City Council at its Dec. 17 meeting on reasons why the association felt that Glenwood should be a part of the organization, after leaving it several years earlier.
Councilman Russ Arensman asked why Glenwood should join the association when it’s already a member of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. Diaz’s response was Glenwood’s unique proximity to both the resort communities to the south, and the energy development communities to the west, were good reasons to be involved with both organizations. He said that currently, there are several cities who belong to both, including Steamboat Springs.
“I think [Glenwood] is affected by both of those, so it makes sense to be a part of both and being part of the discussion about policy that is crafted and implemented on those two levels,” Diaz said.
Glenwood was one of the original members of the association back when it began in the early 1970s, according to Diaz. To the best of Mayor Bruce Christensen’s recollection, Glenwood left the association four or five years ago.
Diaz explained that, to the best of his knowledge, one of Glenwood City Council’s reasons then for leaving the association was that the city no longer qualified for the northwest enterprise zone in which the association provides regional services to qualified municipalities.
Three factors are considered for cities to be eligible for the enterprise zone, Diaz said including: Per capita income, population and unemployment.
“Glenwood Springs grew to a point where its per-capita income and the population grew high enough that they weren’t eligible to be in a zone,” Diaz said.
Then the zone was moved to include the town of New Castle and everything west in the county, excluding Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, making council’s decision to leave the association easier, according to Diaz.
While Glenwood still does not qualify for the enterprise zone, Diaz said that the city still benefits from the organization’s work.
In 2009, Glenwood received an extra $1.1 million in federal mineral lease and severance tax funds because of the association’s efforts of increasing the equity of the direct distribution of those funds, according to Diaz. This was the first year for the new calculation that determined the new distribution of those funds.
That, and having a voice in future discussions regarding energy development, was enough to convince most councilors that joining was beneficial for the city.
Christensen said that while his opinion is that the city has more common interests with the NCCG than the AGNC, “The association has done a lot of work that we’ve benefited from.”
“I support the motion just as a statement of appreciation and recognition,” Christensen said.
According to Diaz, the AGNC was formed as a regional planning organization for local governments. Currently, the AGNC represents cities and counties on regional issues in the five-county area of Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties, with the AGNC office located in the Henry Building at the County Annex in Rifle. Dues for Glenwood will be $4,500 per year.
“The whole point of the organization is to speak as one voice from this region when speaking to Denver and Washington [D.C.] on regional issues,” Diaz said.
Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert, who is also the AGNC treasurer, said that Glenwood joining the association was a very good thing.
“I think it’s a good thing to have a cohesive regional perspective to present to the Denver area, the state Legislature, and even as far away as Washington,” Lambert said.
Currently, with the addition of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County and five municipalities are members of the AGNC. Diaz expressed interest in speaking with Carbondale officials, too, in an attempt to have that municipality rejoin the organization as well. Diaz said that he expects to have some communication with Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig, and other town trustees, sometime in January.
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