For this week’s “Five Questions With” we asked Green River Mayor Pete Rust Questions about topics like the budget, frequent complaints, the landfill, and more.
Common complaints tend to be seasonal as well as consistent with issues of the day. Examples of seasonal are potholes, deer in the spring, mosquitoes, cracks/dog poop etc. on the greenbelt in summer, school zone issues in fall and of course snow removal in Winter. Issues of the day are currently reduced services and increased fees all associated with the downturn in minerals in our State as well as unfunded Federal mandates, all of which, have resulted in significant lost revenue to Cities.
2. Why did you decide to run for mayor?
I actually had no plans to run for Mayor but I was approached by two former Councilmen who had input from former constituents and City employees that felt we desperately needed change in leadership and they thought I fit the bill, so I agreed to help. I have always believed that it is the responsibility of every citizen to do his civic part and for me I had the background, job experience and education to help at a time I knew was going to be particularly challenging because of the pending economic changes that were being predicted.
3. How has the most recent legislative session impacted the budget for the City of Green River?
The recent Legislative session had both positive and negative impacts on our community. Among some of the positives was the funding of badly needed improvements to our airport which provides a quality of life service to our citizens and an economic development tool and service to our business and industry. The Governor’s veto of the “Gun Free Zones legislation which would have allowed individuals to bring guns into public meetings which was passed by the legislature was an exercise in common sense in my opinion and I am thankful to the Governor for vetoing that legislation. Also on the positive side the Governor launched and the legislature approved funding for the ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) which will provide a comprehensive approach to diversify Wyoming’s economy as well as provide research into the creation of one or more “Industrial Parks” in Wyoming which Sweetwater County is interested in recruiting to our area of the State.
4. There has been a lot of talk about changes at the Green River Landfill and the building of a new transfer station. When will the new transfer station be in use, and will there be additional changes at the landfill during construction?
The new transfer station will start construction in late Spring. It is 100% State funded by grants we received which is an on-going collaboration of the State and Federal governments to reduce the number of landfills around the country with the goal of eliminating multiple sources of potential groundwater contamination, thus preserving our precious water resources. The facility will provide greater convenience for residents who will not have to drive to the top of the landfill but will be able to have the same services at the entrance right of Upland by the landfills entrance. There will be some days of disruption of service during construction but generally this will be temporary and should not be for any extended period. Construction will be substantially completed before next Spring. At this time there are no additional fees contemplated for its use.
5. What was the purpose of the recent Utility Rate Increase Study, and what changes will result from it?
The purpose of the City’s recent cost of service and rate design study was to devise a long term rate structure which would eliminate significant rate actions (increases) in the future, after the initial adjustment period, while at the same time providing for the financial integrity of the utility services. The study also looked into the efficiency of the current Solid Waste Disposal operation and made some recommendations based on those observations. Bottom line is the goal was to provide revenue appropriate to provide the level of service that citizens have come to expect without significant increase in utility bills, unfortunately to accomplish that at the current level of service and to update the dated equipment and facility we have to do exactly what we want to avoid in the long term and that is have a significant increase to establish the needed revenue to accomplish this goal and then, and only then, we will not need to have significant increases in the future but rather have nominal increases as needed.