Economic panel likely to get $15K from county

Mesa County commissioners are likely to include in the county’s 2014 budget a $15,000 contribution to the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

The county’s typical contribution each year of $25,000 to GJEP was removed in draft versions of the 2014 budget. The proposal to restore all but $10,000 of the county’s annual contribution to GJEP will come with strings attached, according to Commissioner Rose Pugliese, including stipulations that the money not be used for salaries or raises.

Pugliese suggested the money only be used to recruit businesses from outside the county but Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said expansion of businesses inside the community is a worthwhile function of GJEP as well. Commissioners left that possible stipulation unsettled after a budget meeting Friday morning.

Mesa County Administrator Tom Fisher said he would draft a letter to GJEP informing them of the $15,000 contribution and any stipulations and send it to the organization by Jan. 1.

GJEP Executive Director Kelly Flenniken, who did not attend the budget meeting, said later Friday she was happy to hear the county plans to contribute some amount to GJEP, even if it’s less than they received in 2013.

“I understand their budget is really challenging this year. It’s less about a dollar amount than what (the contribution) shows — it shows that they are a willing partner, invested in our efforts and at the table with us,” Flenniken said. “It’s important for outside businesses to see that and local businesses, too.”

Flenniken said she is comfortable with county interest in seeing how their money is spent.

“We have no problem with transparency. We provide them with performance measures on goals we set for the year and we will do that again in 2014,” she said.

The city of Grand Junction budget, adopted Wednesday, included the typical annual contribution of $40,000 from the city to GJEP. Flenniken said she anticipates a contribution of $5,000 next year from the city of Fruita and possibly a contribution from the Town of Palisade.

County commissioners will adopt the 2014 budget at a 9 a.m. meeting Monday in the public hearing room at the Old Mesa County Courthouse, 544 Rood Ave.


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