ASPEN, CO - Mountain Rescue-Aspen (MRA), an all-volunteer nonprofit rescue organization, said Pitkin County denied the group access to the county auto shop for preventative maintenance on their fleet of vehicles, according to the Aspen Daily News. County commissioners said it was merely a budget issue.
This fall, the MRA requested to perform up to $3,000 in maintenance at the county shop on three of their vehicles in 2010. In years past, one of their members volunteered his mechanic skills to work on their fleet, but recently left the organization.
MRA had promised to reimburse the county for the cost of the maintenance, similar to the way they reimburse the county for technical service on their radios. Denial of the budget request, MRA president Hugh Zuker said, "both negatively affected and puzzled us."
County officials said the funding denial was an unfortunate side effect of a budget process in which they have had to cut 8 percent from their general fund, lay off staff, and cut existing services.
The rescue organization's request came in the form of a "buy-up," or a new additional budget item. The county received about $1.7 million in such requests, and had just $500,000 to spend on them. The board did not discuss buy-ups that had been denied by their budget staff this fall, said Commissioner Rachel Richards.
While getting the brakes checked and oil changed on their three road vehicles was the immediate concern for Zuker and MRA, he told the commissioners the lack of a relationship between them was the larger issue, reported the Daily News.