Who pays to keep Country Jammers safe?

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Law enforcement is a necessity at Country Jam to keep crowds at bay, but Mesa County commissioners had to decide who is responsible for funding the security staff.

"I think anytime you have an event with 25,000 people per day living among each other for four days that there is obviously some risk for public safety," Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese said.

During Monday's meeting, the commissioners were asked to look at an amendment to Country Jam licensing requiring the festival owner, Town Square Media, to compensate Mesa County Sheriff's Office $50,000 for the weekend.

They voted in favor of the amendment 2-1, but not without an hour long discussion about the idea.

"It was basically a battle between the private sector and government and there's no doubt in my mind law enforcement, especially the Sheriff's Office needs to be reimbursed for their costs. The who pays argument is a little bit trickier than meets the eye," said Pugliese, the only commissioner to vote against the amendment, saying she thinks the topic needs further consideration over the next year.

Town Square Media's Sally Mozzocchi said the company is planning to use Citadel Security for most of the festival's security requirements and she didn't expect to be paying the Mesa County Sheriff's Office as well.

"Other events that we do, they are on call, they are nearby, sometimes they're even at the event themselves, but that is not an additional cost to the festival," Mozzocchi said. "It is absorbed by the agency."

Mesa County Sheriff's Office did absorb the cost the past two years, but previously the office had been compensated by festival owners.

The commissioners discussed looking more closely at the general fund next year to give the office room in its budget for Country Jam security, while Town Square Media is looking to research the economic affect the festival has on the area.


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