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Mancos backs out of Montezuma Community Economic Development Association

Town plans to use funds to support local business
Aaron Halls glues the floor in one of the Alpacka rafts at the company’s location in Mancos. It’s one of the local companies MCEDA has worked with in the past.

The Mancos Town Board voted Wednesday to end its membership in the Montezuma Community Economic Development Association, citing a lack of support for the town’s businesses.

Mayor Pro Tem Fred Brooks, who currently sits on MCEDA’s board of directors, recommended the town end its relationship with the group after paying its dues for the first quarter. He said that over the past year, the group seems to be spending more time helping Cortez businesses than those on Mancos’ side of the county. The town board voted to pay its dues for the first quarter of 2018, but to cease membership in MCEDA after that.

Brooks said it was a hard decision to recommend leaving the organization, especially since he was the one who advocated for the town to join it in the first place, but he felt the money currently budgeted for MCEDA dues could be better spent elsewhere.

“I’m not truly understanding what their direction is at this point,” he said. “They seem to be working more with individual businesses, which is a really great thing, and they seem to be working more with individual businesses at the other end of the county.”

Because governmental entities pay dues based on population, Mancos’s membership dues for 2018 were more expensive than those of any business or individual, at $1,790. Brooks said he didn’t feel the benefits the town has received from MCEDA were enough to justify that cost. He recommended the board pay only enough of its dues to cover the town’s membership through March of 2018, about $400.

Mayor Queenie Barz agreed, and added that she believed the change in MCEDA’s direction had come with a change in leadership. She said the previous two executive directors, Chris Burkett and Chelsea Jones, held regular office hours in Mancos during which they would meet with local business owners, but the new executive director, JoDee Powers, has not done so.

“We’re not seeing that–we’re not even seeing that opportunity,” she said.

Barz and Brooks recommended giving the rest of the money the town budgeted for this year’s membership dues to the Mancos Creative District and Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce. Since those organizations work exclusively to benefit Mancos businesses, they said, the town would be better off supporting them. Town Administrator Heather Alvarez also pointed out that Powers often meets with representatives of the Chamber, so that organization could still provide a way to represent Mancos’s interests to MCEDA.

The board voted unanimously, with member Ed Hallam absent, to end the town’s membership in MCEDA after paying the first three months of its 2018 membership dues.

Lana Hancock, who represents the town of Dolores on the MCEDA board, said her town has already paid its dues and will remain a member through 2018. After the April election, she said, she will ask the board of trustees to reevaluate the “return on investment” that the town receives from MCEDA, as part of the planning process for the 2019 budget.

MCEDA is a group of Montezuma County businesses, governments and individuals that seeks to support established local businesses and encourage new businesses to move into the area. Powers said she did not see Mancos’ departure as a setback for the organization.

The Mancos trustees agreed to vote on how to distribute the rest of the membership dues budget at a later meeting.

Other action

Also during its Wednesday meeting, the trustees:

Discussed potentially reducing the size of the planning and zoning commission and establishing penalties for non-attendance, and agreed to vote on it at a later meeting.Approved a marijuana license renewal for Willow North Inc.Approved the purchase of a new public works vehicle from Morehart Murphy in Durango for an amount not to exceed $49,322.29.Voted to authorize Alvarez to write a letter of support for the Mancos Trails Group, which plans to work with the U.S. Forest Service to adopt and rename a section of the Colorado Trail.

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