Two Grand Junction credit unions see merger as mutually beneficial

Two Grand Junction credit unions are looking to merge into one, pressed by a variety of factors, including increasing regulation, officials said.

Mt. Garfield Federal Credit Union, chartered in 1938, sought out a potential merger with Rio Grande Federal Credit Union, and the boards of both credit unions have approved the merger, Rio Grande Federal Credit Union Chief Executive Officer Jim Burkey said.

Rio Grande is the larger of the two, with more than $31 million in assets and 3,268 members. Mt. Garfield has $8 million in assets and 1,436 members.

The merger remains to be approved by the National Credit Union Administration and the membership of Mt. Garfield Credit Union.

The merger is a “business advantage to both,” Burkey said. Both organizations have more than double the assets they need to be considered well capitalized and are otherwise similar, Burkey said.

“This (merger) is absolutely not out of necessity,” Burkey said. “It’s out of strength. The combined credit union will be stronger than either one.”

Western Colorado has seen a previous merger of credit unions, when the Mesa County Teachers Federal Credit Union merged with the Burning Mountain Federal Credit Union in 2004 to form Western Rockies Federal Credit Union. Western Rockies has $101 million in assets and more than 14,000 members.

Elaine Jones of Mt. Garfield referred questions about the merger to Burkey. A flier put out by the Mt. Garfield Credit Union board, however, said it began looking for a new site after learning it might have to relocate from its existing site in the Xcel Energy building, 2538 Blichmann Ave.

After looking at other sites, “it became clear that the initial cost, ongoing maintenance, taxes and other expenses would be too expensive for the limited resources of our small credit union,” the Mt. Garfield board wrote to its members.

Mt. Garfield Federal Credit Union serves employees of Xcel and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it maintains an office in the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 2121 North Ave.

Joining the two credit unions will allow for greater ability to keep up with changing rules and regulations, as well as keep and attract talented employees, Burkey said.

“I don’t know if it’s good news or bad, but certainly government is increasing its oversight on all financial institutions, and that all takes human resources” for the institutions to keep up, Burkey said.

Membership meetings for Mt. Garfield Credit Union members will take place Jan. 18 and Feb 15, with a final vote on the merger possibly on Feb. 26.

Mt. Garfield Credit Union has three full-time and two part-time employees, and Rio Grande Credit Union has 11 full-time employees with a single office at 760 Grand Ave.


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