Commissioners continue review of 6th penny requests

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Sweetwater County Commissioners in front are Lauren Schoenfeld and Wally Johnson. In back from left are Randy Wendling, Jeff Smith and Roy Lloyd.

By Ann Jantz, wyo4news.com

SWEETWATER COUNTY, WYOMING (Nov. 7, 2019) — The Sweetwater County Commission on Tuesday continued its consideration of Specific Purpose Tax requests, hearing from the North Sweetwater Water and Sewer District in Reliance and again from the Sweetwater Events Complex.

 

Representatives from Reliance asked the commissioners to support their project request to replace/repair the wastewater system and sewer lagoon, not including the B&R Mobile Home Park.

It was noted that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality mandated the system be replaced. Also, Reliance residents currently pay $60 per month per connection, as compared to about $13 per month in Rock Springs.

“Our system has to be upgraded, it is worn out due to year of use and little to no reinvestment,” the supporting letter in the commissioners’ meeting packet states. “Utilizing 6 penny funding would reduce the economic hardship to our residents by reducing the projected wastewater rates so that they align more closely to the rates of our neighbors within the County.”

District members indicated the project would cost between $2.5-$3 million.

The pipes in Reliance are the original pipes that were put in the town decades ago.

Commission Chairman Wally Johnson believed the project could be eligible for AML funding, although district members said they were unsuccessful in securing the funding previously.

Also presenting to the commissioners a revised project proposal was the Sweetwater Events Complex. Executive Director Larry Lloyd said the second arena was eliminated from the complex’s original project proposal.

 

First on the complex’s list of project priorities is the 8,700 expansion to the Exhibit Hall. Lloyd said it is about “making an older building .. modern,” which in turn will make the Events Complex more marketable.

The Exhibit Hall expansion will create additional meeting rooms and a larger entrance area. A portable wall system will also make it possible to section up different areas in the Exhibit Hall so that multiple events can happen simultaneously, if needed, Lloyd said.

The Exhibit Hall expansion is estimated at $6.78 million. Also requested for Specific Purpose Tax consideration is a water system upgrade estimated at $1.14 million. Third on the list is the Indoor Arena building upgrade.

Marketing and Event Coordinator Lena Warren said the Events Complex must continue to make improvements so that it can compete with other venues for events like the National High School Finals Rodeo.

Lloyd voiced that he has some concern with the number of projects being put forward for 6th penny funding and relying totally on the voting consensus of the the county. He noted the Events Complex will be faced with the same issues — maintenance of an aging facility — regardless of whether the public accepts or denies their 6th penny projects.

He said other funding options will have to become part of the discussion.

 

Commissioner Johnson said voters will select what’s important if the Specific Purpose Tax proposals are packaged right. He thought Lloyd sounded like he was assuming the tax proposal was “not going to fly.”

Lloyd said it is more about putting everything in one basket.

“If you put too much cargo on the ship, it sinks,” he added.