SWEETWATER COUNTY– The towns and cities of Sweetwater County presented their lists of needed projects for the 6th penny tax to the Sweetwater County Commissioners Tuesday morning.
Bairoil, Granger, Green River, Rock Springs, Superior, and Wamsutter all had representatives to present their list of projects to the commissioners, and explain why the projects are a necessity in their communities. Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County also presented their proposed projects.
The total dollar amount of each of the municipalities projects, as well as Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County’s projects, equals $151,080,200. This total does not include the county’s projects or the Sweetwater Events Complex. The Events Complex already gave a presentation of their projects, which totaled to over $24 million.
The entities are proposing the following projects:
Mayor Sue Ann Rigano said the Town of Bairoil’s proposal calls for $4.4 million for water projects, including updating their sewer system, and two street paving projects.
Mayor Bradly McCollum said Granger’s proposed projects total up to $11,712,000 for multiple infrastructure projects. Projects include the Hams Fork River extension, 9.8 miles of drinking water intake (the current water line is over 40 years old), a backwash pond replacement, a new fire department facility, a water metering project, street paving, and lagoon upgrades.
The City of Green River’s proposal totals $52.9 million in infrastructure and quality of life projects. Though the infrastructure projects take priority, Mayor Pete Rust emphasized the importance of quality of life for bringing in workers to the community. Priorities are street replacements and overlays, replacing the 60 year old water treatment facility, and remodeling the city’s recreation center.
The City of Rock Springs’ projects equal $22.5 million. Their top priority is the water reclamation project to fix the bad odor in the city. They are also wanting to do some beautification projects at the city’s gatewats, as Councilman Keaton West said, beautification provides quality of life and recruits workers.
The City of Rock Springs is also being asked to sponsor three outside agencies, in which the projects total $19.91 million. The projects include $3.5 million for a YWCA building expansion, $3,360,000 for Commerical Terminal funding assistance for the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport, and $13 million for a multi-use recreation facility.
That puts the total for Rock Springs and outside agency sponsorship projects at $42,410,000.
The Town of Superior is proposing water projects that would total $1.5 million. The projects are to drill a new well and add a drip system at the town’s sewer lagoon. The original water pipes were placed about 35 years ago and are nearly at their life expectancy.
Wamsutter Mayor Joe Erickson said the town has ten projects totaling $18,173,566. The town is proposing over $10 million in infrastructure projects and over $7 million in quality of life projects. Projects include repairing and re-concreting the industrial loop, replace water lines that were placed in the 70s, develop housing for their fire department, build an ambulance bay, and other construction of buildings.
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County
MHSC is proposing $19,455,356 in projects including, reconstruction of their operating room, updating medical imaging, relocating and expanding their dialysis unit, and replacing the HVAC system. For the operating room to meet regulatory requirements, the S3 HVAC units will have to be replaced at the same time of renovations.
The operating room project and S3 unit would total over $7 million. The updates to medical imaging and replacement of S6 HVAC units would total over $5 million. The relocation and expansion to the dialysis unit would total over $6 million.
Commissioner Would Like Projects to Not Exceed $100 Million
Chairman Wally Johnson said he personally would like the projects to total around $80 million, while other commissioners are favoring around $100 million. To stay in the $80-100 million range, the entities will have to cut back immensely.
Using the numbers from Robb Slaughter, Sweetwater County Treasurer, $151 million in special purpose tax projects would take about nine years to pay off.
Commissioner Roy Lloyd pointed out that with the changing economic landscape in Sweetwater County, and with several layoffs and plant closures happening across the county, revenue streams coming into the county could lower. Therefore, he said they should be careful of putting too long of a tax in place.
Commissioner Randy Wendling countered Lloyd by saying that with several new projects coming into the county, new workers will be entering the county’s workforce and that they should take advantage of the sales tax revenue that will be coming in due to these changes.
Chairman Johnson said he would like the entities to pick out their absolute priorities, and then take a vote with all the municipalities on a final, cumulative list of proposed projects. Once they do that, the commissioners will once again look at the proposals and choose what goes on the ballot. He said they also need to decide if they want to present the projects individually on the ballots, or if they want to do an all or nothing ballot.
Johnson said the county also needs to get a list of their priorities together, as well as figure out which outside entity the county wants to sponsor.
Green River City Councilman Gary Killpack said at Tuesday night’s council meeting that he thinks the entities should all try to get the commissioners to agree on a longer timeline for the tax, so they can collect more money and fund more projects.
Commissioner Johnson has said before that he does not think the County residents would be favorable to a tax that is much longer than four years.