RS City Council narrows down list of proposed Specific Purpose Tax projects

City agrees to sponsor 3 outside agency projects; total cost goes up

Rock Springs City Hall

By Ann Jantz,

Rock Springs, Wyoming — The City of Rock Springs managed to narrow down the projects it wishes to put forward for consideration for the Specific Purpose Tax. What didn’t change was the price tag.

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The Rock Springs City Council met in special session on Monday to discuss which projects they wish to propose to Sweetwater County as possible Specific Purpose Tax projects. Council members who were in attendance — Keaton West, Glennise Wendorf, Rob Zotti, Billy Shalata, Jeannie Demas and Mayor Tim Kaumo — decided on the following projects:

  • Water Reclamation Plant odor controls, $4 million
  • Retention ponds northeast of Rock Springs, $2.5 million
  • Miscellaneous sewer projects, $5 million
  • Miscellaneous water projects, $5 million
  • Miscellaneous storm water projects, $5 million

They also gave a nod to three outside agency projects — YWCA’s new building ($3.5 million), Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport’s commercial terminal project ($3.5 million), and a new multi-use facility that will be built next to the Recreation Center ($13.05 million).

Projects that were taken off the table include the widening of College Drive and Dewar Drive ($3.5 million) and the Eastside Belt Loop Phase I project ($15.8 million). Added to the list was a $1 million gateway beautification project proposed by West.

The total of all the projects comes to almost $43 million, which exceeds the $40.8 million proposed at last weeks meeting, even with taking three projects out of the running.

It was also proposed that the multi-use building be considered as a separate ballot initiative so that residents would have a chance to choose between infrastructure projects and quality of life projects.

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In debating which projects could be put on hold, Mayor Kaumo noted Director of Engineering and Operations Paul Kauchich recommended that the two street widening projects could wait, while the sewer, water and storm water projects are the most important and needed projects.

Kaumo also said that while the smell at the Water Reclamation Plant is not dire, it is important to Rock Springs’ ability to attract people to the area. Zotti asked if any other options, such as grants, could be pursued to pay for the Water Reclamation Plant fix.

“I want to make sure we are exhausting all other options before we ask for a tax,” he said.

Shalata also noted council needs to keep in mind the Sweetwater County Commission’s talk about putting an $80 million cap on the Specific Purpose Tax total.

As the talks continued, Kaumo pointed out that zero residents were in attendance at Monday evening’s special meeting. He said he is “dismayed” by the public’s seeming lack of interest in what happens with their city, and offered hard criticism about those people who choose to post opinions online but don’t bother to offer useful ideas at meetings.

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“Just because you rant on social media doesn’t mean you’ve made a difference,” he said. “If you want to make a difference, show up to the meetings.”

Not present at Monday’s meeting were Councilmen Tim Savage, David Halter and David Tate.

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