Organizations Present RS Council with Funding Requests

Organizations Present RS Council with Funding Requests

Joint Powers Combined Communications Executive Director Rick Hawkins speaks to the Rock Springs City Council. SweetwaterNOW photo by Stephanie Thompson

ROCK SPRINGS — During a special Rock Springs City Council meeting tonight, representatives from various organizations and agencies presented the Council with their Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget requests.

Prior to the presentations, Mayor Tim Kaumo said the goal is to have conversations with agencies to see where they are at. Every organization and city departments were asked to decrease their budget requests by around 30 percent.

“This City Council would like to do what’s fair and what we feel we can at this point,” Kaumo said.

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Most of the conversation centered around the Joint Powers Combined Communication’s request.

Joint Powers Combined Communications Executive Director Rick Hawkins said after receiving requests for budget cuts, the most the group went up to was around 25 percent. However, this could lead to position cuts and could cause funding entities to cover costs. Hawkins said they reduced their budget by 15 percent budget cut and are asking for $1.22 million from Rock Springs.

Kaumo said the total is $2.842 million, which is divided three ways with Rock Springs covering 43 percent, Green River with 32 percent, and Sweetwater County paying 25 percent. This means Rock Springs will pay about $1.22 million for its portion.

With past cuts, they used reserves to cover those costs. They will not have a general fund reserve or 911 reserves. As for how much they charge for 911 calls, they are already at the max and it can’t be raised unless the Wyoming Legislature changes legislation to do so.

Since 2012, the center has had around 25 employees, 20 of those are dispatchers. Hawkins said they have four shifts with five employees on each shift. They also have combined equipment, software, and information technology support.

“Do you think 25 employees is too many employees?” Kaumo asked.

Kaumo said they visited Laramie County and they have eight to nine employees running their entire system. Kaumo said he thought that over time the staff would have decreased through attrition by now. Councilor Keaton West said he thought they paid around $300,000 to $400,000 to run the dispatch center.

Hawkins said they have one entity ran by one executive director who answers to the Laramie County Commission.

Councilor David Halter said there really is no apples to apples comparison because this is the only combined communication dispatch center in the state. He said their budget also ranges quite a bit because their dispatch center is located in the city’s police department and the county helps pay for the service. He said it’s hard to tell where the money is coming from because it’s covered by various budgets.

“I do believe we are operating within our means at the center,” Halter said.

Other Requests

Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Executive Director Devon Brubaker said none of their metrics have looked good for the last year due to COVID-19. They did receive some COVID-19 relief funding, but it can only be spent in certain areas. The operating revenue request is for $195,050; and $169,904 for SkyWest air service funding. About $300,000 of reserves will be used to help carry over the budget.

Community Fine Arts Director Debora Soule said because we have not been able to hold any events, the CFAC has about $18,000 to carry over. The CFAC is requesting $6,200 this year. The CFAC is looking at cuts from the county, which will mean a decrease in staffing hours, which Soule will cover herself.

Sweetwater County Library Director Jason Grubb said they’ve had to make adjustments for county request and decreased their request by 30 percent. In order to make the cuts, they will not be putting any money toward adult and children programs. The money requested will go toward maintenance and care of the building. If funding could come back, they would like it to go for youth programs. They requested $14,600 and are hoping their Library Foundation can help cover some of the cuts.

STAR Transit Authority director Mary Seppie said they did cut 30 percent off of their original request for what they requested last year, which originally was $42,911. However, they later cut their request after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They will also be asking funding from the county and city of Green River.

“I feel like we provide a very important service,” Seppie said.

Red Desert Roundup Rodeo Treasurer Lauren Reed said they cancelled last year’s event due to COVID-19. Reed said they decided to cut Thursday night’s performance due to low ticket sales to cut 15 percent. In 2019, they requested $12,000; and this year their request is $8,400. They didn’t qualify for any funding related to COVID-19.

Misty Wilson of the Young at Heart Senior Center said they were. To cut about 35 percent of the budget, they are not going to be filling positions that are currently open, including a kitchen, public relations, outreach coordinator, and cleaning positions. They requested $43,000 this year.

Rick Lee, Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce CEO, requested $27,651, which is a 30 percent decrease as requested by the Council. He said they are receiving a lot of requests for relocation information, which is good.

Treatment Court of Sweetwater County requested $6,000, which is a 33 percent decrease.

All of the requests compared to last year’s requests are in the graph below.

Outside Agency2021-22 Budget Requests 2020-21 Budget Requests
Community Fine Arts Center$6,200$15,400
Rock Springs Library$14,600$23,085
Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce$27,651$39,501
STAR Transit Authority$30,038$32,186
Red Desert Roundup Rodeo$8,400$12,000
Treatment Court of Sweetwater County $6,000$9,000
Joint Powers Combined Communications$1.22 million$1.8 million
Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport$195,050/Operations
$169,904/ Air Service
Young at Heart Senior Center$43,000$61,375