Downtown business leaders are increasingly concerned La Plata County officials may move the clerk's office out of downtown.
Members of Durango's Business Improvement District board recently drafted a letter urging county officials to carefully consider the impacts of moving the government offices.
"Relocating the functions of the county clerk's office would have a negative ripple effect on the functions and employees of our title companies, banks, real-estate companies and attorneys," the board said.
County Commissioner Wally White said their concerns may be misplaced.
"While there may be a shift in one thing, there would be an increase in something else," White said. "We don't know what that's going to look like yet."
No decisions have been made, White said.
"We're looking at a number of different scenarios right now, and much of it has to do with the potential for the federal courthouse that we've been working on, because that's moving along fairly well," he said.
Business leaders worry a large employer moving out of downtown would hurt restaurants and retailers, which already are suffering from the ailing economy. Sales-tax receipts in Durango are down 2.2 percent in the first three months of 2009 compared with the same period a year ago.
"La Plata County government may be the single largest anchor tenant in downtown Durango," said Bob Allen, a BID board member. "The economic importance of that anchor tenant is irrefutable. The existing courthouse has space constraints. The BID board would like to partner with the county and work toward downtown solutions to those space constraints."
John Wells, board chairman, said there is office space available directly across East Second Avenue from the courthouse in the Greeley Gas Building.
County Commissioner Kellie Hotter said the county is listening to business leaders' concerns.
"We here at the county fully understand the importance in keeping a county government downtown presence in sustaining the economic vitality and health of downtown Durango," she said.
"We are definitely overcrowded in this building, and we have to alleviate that stress, so we're doing the homework to figure out how best to do that."
County Commissioner Joelle Riddle could not be reached Monday.
Linda Daley, county clerk and recorder, met with BID representatives last week. But the final decision will be made by the county commissioners.
"I know they're talking about it," Daley said.
Bodo Industrial Park is one possible future home for the clerk's office, she said.