Projects Proposed for Potential Special Purpose Tax Ballot Initiative

Projects Proposed for Potential Special Purpose Tax Ballot Initiative

SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commission hosted an intergovernmental meeting February 17 to discuss the Specific Purpose Tax (SPT) ballot initiative with the community and start gathering proposals for projects.

“We want to make sure that we are bringing the public into the conversation, that we are including them in our decision making, and we want to make sure that the public feels like they are heard and we want them to be engaged in this whole process,” Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld said.

During the meeting, the Commission heard from seven different county districts and municipalities to listen their priority projects. Commissioner Schoenfeld also said they plan to hold another meeting to bring forth more projects.

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“I want to allow for at least one or more of these meetings after this one. We will also have a committee meeting,” Schoenfeld said.

The SPT committee is made up of at least one representative from each municipality in Sweetwater County, Schoenfeld explained.

Priority Projects

Lenore Perry, representing the North Sweetwater Water and Sewer District, said Reliance needs to repair its lagoons to meet the needs of the Reliance people. Perry said the lagoon project has been on the books for six or seven years, but available funding has dissipated due to inflation.

The original cost of the project was about $4.2 million, but they are expecting an increase of $3 million now. Though they have received a $2.9 million loan from the State Loan Investment Board (SLIB), that will have to be repaid and it still doesn’t cover the full cost of the project.

Dan Shedden of the Jamestown-Rio Vista Water and Sewer District said they are looking to build a trunk sewer line from the west side of the river all the way to the City of Green River. 

This project was on the last ballot proposal as well. While the cost of the project was $7.5 million before the COVID-19 pandemic, they are certain that cost has inflated a bit. The District is looking at acquiring about $100,000 right now for earnest money to get their foot in the door. 

Irene Richardson, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County CEO, said they would like to extend the hospital’s lab so that it goes out to the parking lot. This way patients could enter the lab without having to go into the main area of the hospital. 

Richardson said the outpatient lab moved during the pandemic so patients could access it more easily. She said that it was “beneficial” and they would like to recreate this set up with their existing lab. The cost of the project before inflation was $5 million. 

Wamsutter is looking to replace about 10 blocks of water and sewer lines that were originally put in during the 1970s. The cost to replace these lines would be about $7.9 million. 

Additionally, they would like to replace the mile and a half of road at their industrial site, as the road has “deteriorated.” To replace the road would cost about $5.7 million. 

Wamsutter also wants to use the tax to fund a new fire hall. Wamsutter has some fire trucks that have to sit outside because there is no space indoors. This project is about $3.95 million. 

David Thorne, Director of the Green River and Rock Springs Youth Homes, said that they would like to use the SPT to replace the Green River Youth Home. 

“The need is pretty much imminent at this point,” Thorne said. 

They keep putting money into repairs but he said they cannot keep maintaining the building in the condition it is in. He said they are either looking to consolidate with the Rock Springs Youth Home or look for another facility in Green River. 

Rock Springs and Green River

The Rock Springs City Council met for a special meeting on February 16 where they narrowed down 19 plus priority projects to a top six. 

Councilor Tim Robinson said the city’s first priority project is the Water Reclamation Facility/Odor Control project. That project is estimated to cost $5.2 million. 

The second project is the Northeast Rock Springs Detention Basin, at a cost of $3.5 million. Third is the Killpecker Creek Detention Basin, estimated to cost $6.3 million. Both of these projects are to assist the city in flood mitigation. 

The fourth priority is the Rock Springs Parks and Recreation projects and the Greenbelt Gateway Improvement project. The projects on the slate for the parks and recreation department total up to cost $9.8 million, while the gateway improvement is expected to cost about $1 million. 

The fifth priority project is the Wind River Tank and Transmission Water System project, which is a storage unit for water on the west end of town. Robinson said as more subdivisions are developed, the more water will be needed. 

The final priority project is the First Security Bank Phase 2 renovation. Robinson said the Council believes this building will provide a lot of business opportunities in downtown Rock Springs. The cost of Phase 2 is $6.5 million, though some of that will be funded with grants. 

The total cost of Rock Springs’ priority projects is about $39.85 million. 

Lastly, Green River Public Works Director Mark Westenskow said the city of Green River is focusing on getting infrastructure projects done. Westenskow said there are about a dozen streets that need work in Green River, at a cost of $30 million with inflation.

Proposals from Superior, Granger, Bairoil have not been presented yet, however, Commissioner Schoenfeld expects to see proposals soon.