Study finds that average annual wages in most employment sectors do not provide enough income to meet a family of four's basic needs. This story is sponsored by Happy Pappy's Pizza and Wings and the Man Cave Barber
Surprise! Durango is not the most expensive community in Southwest Colorado. At least that's according to the latest livable wage study that the Region 9 Economic Development District recently released. You're watching the local news roundup, brought to you by Happy Pappy's Pizza n Wings and Man Cave Barber. I'm Hannah Robertson. The most expensive town in Southwest Colorado? Pagosa Springs. The least expensive, according to the study? Cortez and Mancos. A livable wage is the amount of money someone would have to earn to cover essential needs, like rent, healthcare, childcare, and groceries. Region 9 used estimated expenditures from a Colorado Center on Law and Policy study prepared by the Center for Women's Welfare at the University of Washington School of Social Work. Colorado's minimum wage pays $12.56 an hour, or about $26,500 a year. If both adults in a four-person household worked full-time for minimum wage, total income would be about $53,000 a year. But, in Archuleta County, it costs a family of four about 92,800 annually to cover living expenses. That means both adults would have to work a full-time job and each earn a minimum of about $22 an hour to cover costs. Average annual wage in Archuleta County is a little more than $39,000, only 42% of the estimated livable wage. Montezuma County was the least expensive for a household with two adults and two children. Average cost of living in Montezuma County was about $72,000 annually. So both adults would have to work full-time and each earn a minimum of about $17 an hour. Average annual wage across all industries is just shy of $40,000 or 44% less than the estimated cost of living. La Plata County was the second-most expensive place to live for a family of four. Average cost of living for La Plata County families is about $87,000, and each adult would have to earn more than $20 an hour to afford the basics. Average wage is 51,000, 40% less than what will cover basic needs. The study found that most employment sectors in the five counties that comprise Region 9 do not provide enough income to meet the basic needs of a family of four. You can download a copy of the report at region9edd.org. Perhaps the Durango Fire Protection District downtown station will stay at its River City Hall location after all... or not. That depends on whether the Fire District and the city can come up with an acceptable agreement that will allow the Fire District to use the location. Both the Fire District and the city have entered into a memorandum of understanding that gives the two government entities a year to come up with an agreement. Either party can end the negotiations with a 45-day notification if they believe that they cannot reach an agreement in good faith. During negotiations, the Fire District has agreed not to pursue any land use applications for the old high school property that it purchased in late summer last year from Durango School District 9-R. The Durango Fire had planned to raise the old arts and sciences building on the east side of campus to build firetruck bays and to convert the old high school administration building into offices for the Fire District, and perhaps the Durango Fire Department. The Fire District's downtown station has been at the River City Hall location since 1983. Fire District officials say the building is obsolete and too small for today's firefighting and emergency response teams and vehicles. City Council and the Fire District's governing board have agreed to meet every two months for progress reports, and both entities have agreed to present design ideas in public meetings. Want to know more? Visit the city website at durangogov.org or the Fire District's website at durangofire.org. The Community Concerts in the Secret Garden at the Rochester series begins this week to benefit six nonprofit organizations. The concerts are sponsored by the community foundation serving Southwest Colorado. Each concert runs from 5:00 to 7:00 PM on Wednesdays, rain or shine, in the Rochester Hotel garden. Food and beverages will be available for sale. This year's beneficiaries include the San Juan Mountains Association, La Plata Open Space Conservancy, Conservation Corps, IV Corps, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and the Mountain Studies Institute. Admission is $10, and the foundation asks that you pay with cash. To learn more, visit swcommunityfoundation.org. That's it for this week's roundup. I'm Hannah Robertson.