ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (April 23, 2020) — The Rock Springs City Council met in special session today to hear budget requests from both outside and department agencies.
In total, over $2 million was requested from outside agencies during tonight’s meeting.
Heavy cuts to the overall budget forced many agencies, both outside and departmental, to make cuts to their individual budget. The overall budget cuts stem from a reduction of sales tax, as well as the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak.
No decisions were made at this meeting.
Among the outside agencies who submitted requests included:
- The Community Fine Arts Center
- The Rock Springs Library
- The Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce
- STAR Transit Authority
- The Red Desert Roundup Rodeo
- The Treatment Court of Sweetwater County
- The Joint Powers Combined Communications Board
- The Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport
- The Rock Springs Recycling Center
- The Young-at-Heart Senior Center
The Community Fine Arts Center (CFAC) requested $15,400 from the City of Rock Springs. CFAC claims to have had to postpone a number of events due to the current COVID-19 outbreak; however, they continue to promote the arts during the closure.
The Rock Springs Library requested $23,085 from the City of Rock Springs. Plans for the funding include working towards a children’s program during the summer, maintenance on the library building, as well as maintenance on the upcoming children’s discovery center, which is still in the works. The library remains busy when it is able to be open, despite now being closed for five and a half weeks.
The Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce requested $39,501 from the City of Rock Springs. The Chamber has reportedly struggled to compensate for the current COVID-19 outbreak; however, the Chamber hopes to use funds from the City of Rock Springs to help assist businesses throughout and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
STAR Transit Authority, originally planning to ask for $42,911 from the City of Rock Springs, was able to bring their request down to $32,186. STAR Transit Authority also asked the City not to pay for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019, as well as the first fiscal quarter of 2020, due to the recent CARE Act funding received. While STAR Transit Authority has closed its fixed routes due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they still offer appointment-based travel and door-to-door options, focusing mostly on elderly clients who need to travel to places such as the grocery store or doctor’s offices.
The Southwest Regional Airport requested $435,000 from the City of Rock Springs. According to Devon Brubaker, Airport Director, the large request is mostly due to a near eighty-percent reduction in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Brubaker estimated that this pandemic has been nearly nine times worse for the travel industry than 911. “As we are all aware, this COVID-19 situation has wreaked havoc on nearly every sector of our economy; and, quite honestly, there is no other industry that has been hurt more than the travel industry,” Brubaker said. Brubaker claims that the pandemic has caused the airport to lose 96% of its passengers, 70% of its flights, and 80% of its general aviation traffic.
The Rock Springs Recycling Center requested $218,008 from the City of Rock Springs. Devon Brubaker of the Rock Springs Recycling Center claims they are working closely with the Solid Waste District to ensure additional funding, but says that it has been a “slow process”. Brubaker says the same amount was requested from the Solid Waste District in efforts to ensure funding for the future. “We have turned in the same amount to both organizations; because, we don’t know who, if anyone, will be funding us going forward,” Brubaker said.
Augusta Clayton-Davis of the Treatment Court of Sweetwater County requested $9,000, an increase of $2,000 from last year. Rock Springs Police Chief Dwane Pacheco and Councilor Tim Savage both backed the request of the Treatment Court, claiming that the money provided to the Court helps save money long-term in dealing with other fees.
The Red Desert Roundup Rodeo requested an amount of $12,000 from the City of Rock Springs. It is being discussed to reduce the number of days of the event from three to two, taking place July 24-25, instead of July 23-25.
The Joint Powers Combined Communications board requested an amount of $1.8 million from the City of Rock Springs. Executive Director Rick Hawkins said that 85 percent of the budget asked would go toward salaries. Mayor Tim Kaumo commented on the budget, saying “This is a large budget to digest.”
The Young-at-Heart Senior Center requested an amount of $61,375. Executive Director Ryan Rust claims the money would be used to help support programs currently underway at the Senior Center. In addition, the funds would help with repair costs needed at the center.
Councilman Rob Zotti ended the meeting with comments regarding the importance of cuts during this unprecedented time.
“Outside agencies need to look a little bit harder and need to consider cuts in what they are requesting,” Zotti began. “We just don’t have the funding we have had in the past.”
“Everybody has to do their part in this. I would encourage every outside department to go back and sharpen their pencil and come back with something a little bit different.”
“If you can, it is best to offer cuts that you feel you can live with,” said Mayor Kaumo.