SWEETWATER COUNTY — Following years of productive conversations with stakeholders and residents about urgent community and infrastructure needs throughout the entire County of Sweetwater, officials are re-opening a conversation with the broader public that was halted nearly two years ago given the pandemic.
“We’ve been exploring options to finance critical projects that touch our residents every day,” said Sweetwater County Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld, who is currently coordinating the conversations with all municipalities. “Our cities and towns are hurting and the pandemic only accelerated the need for solutions.”
Officials from each of the jurisdictions within the county have been discussing the potential to place a specific purpose tax question on the ballot this November. A specific purpose tax sunsets naturally once the funds are collected and voters will be able to see each project, and the associated cost, proposed.
Some recent successful specific purpose tax initiatives included water, sewer, storm drainage, street, curb, sidewalk, and gutter replacement/improvements; medical office building construction and furnishing; Child Development Center construction and furnishing; assisted living facility renovation; and new ambulances and a new truck with a snowplow.
This intergovernmental group is encouraging any public-serving entity or group with a project to bring it forward for consideration. Projects should address an urgent community need and be close to “shovel ready”.
The process will begin with an intergovernmental meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. Individuals and organizations with projects that need funding through this potential tax initiative are encouraged to share details at this meeting. Those wishing to participate should contact Sally Shoemaker at 307-872-3897 or email@example.com.
The general public is also encouraged to attend. Citizens can attend in person at the County Commissioners’ Chambers at 80 W. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River or watch the live broadcast via YouTube.
“I’m encouraged by the ongoing communication, collaboration, and commitment among all the jurisdictions,” said newly-elected Rock Springs City Councilman Tim Robinson. “And that includes support among the Rock Springs City Council.”
Councilman Robinson noted that one of the primary needs facing the City of Rock Springs is Flood Mitigation.
“The last few years have brought several ‘Hundred Year’ floods that have devastated family homes as well as businesses in our community. I look forward to hearing the input of those in our county regarding all of the proposed projects,” Robinson said. “I’m hoping people will actually take an active role in this process and attend or view the special meetings in person, rather than jumping on the social media bandwagon of those with only partial information. These meetings will be the perfect opportunity to ask questions and get factual answers.”
Robinson is the Rock Springs-appointed representative of the intergovernmental group made up of officials from each of the local jurisdictions. Other members include: Baroil, Granger, Green River, Rock Springs, Superior, Wamsutter, as well as the county.
The group’s initial public engagement plans call for the following, although more details will be
released about future outreach:
- A February 17, 2022 Intergovernmental Meeting
- The formation of a stakeholder group — citizens who’ve been selected by the intergovernmental group and tasked with engaging the public through conversations and meetings
- An online community survey that will be launched in late February / early March
- A dedicated webpage — details on the projects and budgets proposed by each of the jurisdictions, in addition to a fact sheet, frequently asked questions, and more at www.sweetwatercountywy.gov/potential_specific_purpose_tax
“We have a lot of work ahead of us to get this initiative in place,” said Green River Mayor Pete Rust. “Infrastructure needs like streets and our wastewater plant are items where a specific purpose tax can really help us. We have some streets that never made the last round of 6th penny initiatives that continue to deteriorate. When you combine the drop in revenues we have experienced these last years with the pandemic pressures, we need a solution to address these and other quality of life issues.”
Beyond the upcoming Intergovernmental Meeting, there will be an announcement when the community survey launches. In the meantime, visit the website for the most up-to-date information.