SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commission selected the projects the county will be sponsoring for the proposed specific purpose tax initiative during its meeting Tuesday.
The Commission narrowed five proposed projects down to two on the basis of which projects could be categorized as infrastructure needs. Commissioner Randy “Doc” Wendling said that throughout multiple discussions with the voters, they have emphasized that the tax will fund strictly infrastructure projects.
“I don’t want to take a risk on any project sinking good infrastructure projects because the voters start a campaign, or a political party starting a campaign that’s saying, ‘hey, they didn’t tell us the truth’,” Wendling said.
The two projects that will be sponsored by the county include a project from North Sweetwater Water and Sewer District for $6.2 million to replace sewer collection pipes and to rebuild the sewer ponds, and from Jamestown- Rio Vista Water and Sewer District for a sewer trunk line replacement costing $9 million.
The highest requested cost for the Jamestown project was $12 million. However, the Commission was also considering sponsoring it at $6 million. They voted 3-2 to sponsor it at $9 million. This brings the total cost of the tax to $78.96 million. The previous total for the tax was around $86 million, funding the Jamestown project at $6 million.
The three proposed projects that will not be sponsored by the county are as follows:
- Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County: lab expansion — $6.2 million
- Sweetwater Events Complex: water line — $1.2 million
- Castle Rock Ambulance Services: seven ambulances — $2.14 million
These three projects won’t be funded because the board determined that they weren’t infrastructure projects that impact communities at large.
“If we’re going to stay infrastructure, I honestly believe from my standpoint… that we really need to work with the hospital to find another way to get that lab expansion done, and I definitely believe we need to pull the Castle Rock ambulances.” Commissioner Wendling said.
By moving forward with the two projects, the county’s total portion of the tax will be $15.2 million. If they had sponsored all five projects the amount would have been around $27.7 million. The Commission voted 4-1 to approve sponsoring the two projects. Commissioner Roy Lloyd being the vote against.
Commissioner Lloyd noted that all the proposed projects are “good projects.” However, he believes they have to look at it in terms of, “will it pass?” he said. He said that if the tax fails this year, they don’t now how long it will be until they regain voter confidence.
There’s a great number that I don’t think will pass this tax whether we have great projects or not now. I think it’s a tight vote to get through.~ Commissioner Roy Lloyd
He said that voters have to be able to see how the projects are important and how they will impact their daily lives. A project like the water line at the Events Complex is important, he said, however it does not impact communities as a whole.
A Rock Springs resident spoke during the meeting, stating that right now is a time of inflation, and the tax will contribute to that. Though he said he understood projects for water, he said he will not support the rest.
“I know you have to do things but the timing is not good,” the resident said.
As of now, the following are the recommended amounts of the tax to be dedicated to each municipality:
- Bairoil- $2.24 million
- County- $15.2 million
- Granger- $2.4 million
- GR- $20.5 million
- RS- $32.66 million
- Superior- $1.86 million
- Wamsutter- $4.1 million
For more information on each of the proposed tax projects, see below: