County Allocates Additional 6th Penny Funds to Rock Springs

County Allocates Additional 6th Penny Funds to Rock Springs

SWEETWATER COUNTY– The Sweetwater County Commissioners hosted a 6th penny discussion at its meeting on Tuesday, in which they approved the City of Rock Springs’ request for an additional $360,000 in projected 6th penny funds.

The additional $360,000 will come out of the County’s allocated funds, which they had previously put toward Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County’s projects.

Chairman Randy Wendling and Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld explained that they had miscounted the dollar amounts and put $600,000 toward the hospital’s projects, giving them more funds than their priority projects require.

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They will move $360,000 from the hospital’s allotment, giving both the hospital and the City of Rock Springs enough projected funds for their priority projects.

Schoenfeld apologized for the mishap as she believed the commission had allocated the City of Rock Springs enough 6th penny tax to cover their priority projects.

“I have to apologize, I thought that we had everything covered with the City of Rock Springs. That $360,000 is an adding error,” Schoenfeld said.

Rock Springs initially requested $42 million worth of projects, which included four projects and three sponsored projects.

The sponsored projects included $3.5 million for YWCA building expansion for child care programs, $3.36 million for Commercial Terminal funding assistance at the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport, and $13 million for a multi-use recreation facility.

The city removed the multi-use recreation facility from their request, and the county allocated $29 million to the city. However, Keaton West, Rock Springs City Councilman, said that left them with a $360,000 shortfall.

Though they would be able to complete the city projects, they would not receive enough of the 6th penny tax to cover both the airport’s terminal project and the YWCA project. West explained that both projects are in need of the 6th cent funding.

West said the YWCA cannot scale back their project, otherwise they would have to scrap the project in its entirety. The airport has already received federal and state funding for its project, so they need either the county of the City of Rock Springs to supply that additional cost.

Commissioners Jeff Smith and Lauren Schoenfeld supported the approval of the additional funding, while Commissioner Roy Lloyd said he was split.

“Rock Springs made significant cuts but so did all the entities,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd worried that if they gave the additional funding, it would open the door for other entities to ask for more.

Reed Clevenger, Green River City Administrator, told the commission that the City of Green River would not be asking for additional funding just because Rock Springs did.

Wendling said the YWCA’s project is addressing a need for child care in the county, and he therefore supported the additional funds for Rock Springs.

The commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the city’s request, with Commissioner Wally Johnson absent from the meeting.

Events Complex Expresses Concerns

The Sweetwater Events Complex has been allocated $6.7 million, which will cover their Exhibit Hall Expansion project.

In an email from Larry Lloyd, Events Complex Executive Director, he thanked the commission for allocating enough projected funds for their expansion project. However, he expressed some concerns about not receiving enough funds for the water system redundancy project.

“Our concern is that the water system redundancy for $1.135 million wasn’t included in that list. In order to maintain fire codes, the water system must be upgraded before we are able to proceed with any improvements on the grounds. Our hope is that the county has another funding source for this project so if the 6th cent is approved we can proceed as planned,” Schoenfeld read from Larry Lloyd’s email.

Without the completion of the water project, the Events Complex said they cannot move forward with the expansion project.

Chairman Wendling said he recalled the commission asking the Events Complex what happened to their water project when they presented their updated priority list.

“We specifically asked them when we put this on the 6th penny, ‘What happened to the water project, is that part of this?’ and they said no,” Chairman Wendling said.

Commissioner Smith said he remembered that as well.

“I guess if they want to switch their 6th penny projects, that’s just fine with me. We would have about $8 million more to distribute elsewhere,” Wendling said.

No representatives from the Events Complex were present at the meeting, and this concern remains unresolved.

Jamestown Sewer Line Concerns

Jamestown resident, Dallas Koons, expressed concerns about the Jamestown-Rio Vista Water & Sewer District’s sewer project being covered by proposed 6th penny tax.

The project would include placing sewer lines from the Gaensslen Ranch area to Green River. Koons’ concern was that this project was being done for the Love’s Travel Stop, and not for the residents of Jamestown.

“I think it’s wrong that Sweetwater County residents have been so good about supporting that 6th penny to have it spent on something like Love’s Truck Stop. The residents out there can’t hook up, they’re already $10,000 in debt, and that’s just for water. Sewer’s going to be a heck of a lot more,” Koons said.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Smith said the sewer project is not for Love’s Travel Stop but is to provide a service for the residents of Jamestown.

The Love’s Travel Stop will already be operating by the time the sewer lines are placed. However, Smith said Love’s could probably tap into the lines later on, and that it could also help other expansion west of Green River.

Next Steps for 6th Penny

Clevenger and West emphasized their desire to figure out how to put the projects on the ballot as well as figure out how the projects will be bonded.

Both Clevenger and West spoke in favor of not bonding all of the projects together, as some of the construction projects will take a few years to start.

Commissioner Schoenfeld said there will be a workshop by the end of March for the entities to get together with the marketing company and figure out a timeline, discuss ballot presentation, bonding, and how best to market the tax to the public.