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City approves budget on first reading

WORLAND — The Worland City Council approved the 2019-2020 budget on first reading with one council member absent and another voting against the budget.

WORLAND — The Worland City Council approved the 2019-2020 budget on first reading with one council member absent and another voting against the budget.

Keith Gentzler was absent and Kreg Lombard, after Clerk/Treasurer Tracy Glanz presented the budget on first reading, voted against it without comment.

Glanz said a total general fund budget of $5,897,115 has been prepared. In an interview last week, Glanz said the 1% to 3% merit raises for employees has been included in the budget.

The general fund was reduced from the preliminary review presented on May 7 with the removal of funds for the design of the city hall renovation. Glanz said the $51,500 was removed at the recommendation of the budget committee.

Glanz has been working for a few years on a remodel for the city hall, which was built in 1935, to address security and American with Disabilities Act.

Last year she had reported the project had been pared down to just 2,800 square feet of city hall for an estimated $981,000.

Capital projects fund is at $644,800. Water fund is at $2,075,047, sewer fund at $1.4 million and sanitation at $1,050,353.

Glanz said the budget is slightly down from the current fiscal budget, with small cuts made across the board.

In other budgetary items, the council approved a request by council member and Worland Aquatic Center Joint Powers Board member Gentzler to allow the pool to be drained into the city sewer system. Mayor Jim Gill said Gentzler asked Gill to make the presentation in his absence. There was a malfunction with the chlorine unit that caused an excessive amount of chlorine to get into the pool.

Public Works Superintendent Brian Burky said the city’s sewer lagoon can handle the 64,000 gallons of the higher chlorine. He has requested if it is possible for them to release the water over two days that would be ideal but they can handle it either way.

Gentzler, through the mayor, also requested that the city cover the costs of filling the pool.

Glanz reported that the additional 64,000 gallons, on top of the regular monthly usage would be about $130.

Council member Mandy Horath said the cost should be funded through the Joint Powers Board major maintenance fund and not the city.

A motion to approve the request for drainage and to cover water costs was approved with Horath opposed.

Glanz then reported that Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness has made a request to use money from the dispatch reserve fund to purchase new equipment and software for a new telephone system for the dispatch center. She said there are two phone systems and the upgrade would integrate them into one system.

The recommendation is for $54,063 for the equipment and three-year service agreement. She said there is currently $135,581 in the reserve fund. Funds for the reserve are provided from any leftover money at the end of the fiscal year. The City of Worland, Washakie County and Worland Fire Protection District No. 1 all pay for dispatch services with the city paying for 50 percent of the services, fire district 7 percent and the county the rest.

Police Chief Gabe Elliott said, “We’re trying to stay up with the times. It’s a new system that’s strictly for our first responders. It’s a better system, more up-to-date.”

The request was approved unanimously.

The request had been approved by the Washakie County commissioners earlier on Tuesday and verbally by the district.

In other business, the council:

•Approved a motion to allow campers at Newell Sargent Park on June 21-22 for a Babe Ruth tournament. Dennis Koch voted against due to concerns over the city ordinance that does not allow camping at city parks and that there is a private business in the city that it would compete with.

•Voted 5-4 in favor of adopting all resolutions for the Wyoming Association of Municipalities. Glanz had recommended approving all but two that support allowing municipalities to participate in the Wyoming insurance programs. Voting against the motion were Gary Gerber, Mike Neufer, Lombard and Delayne Renner.

•Unanimously approved a motion to adopt a resolution for the WAM convention presented by Glanz. Glanz said the Wyoming corporations legislative committee is proposing removing authority of municipalities to regulate franchise fees in their rights-of-way.

The resolution opposes the proposed legislation, seeking to keep the funds and the authority to negotiate with companies at the local level since it is the local rights-of-way that are being used.

The resolution states, “The cities and towns right to negotiate franchise fees with local utility companies is fair and reasonable compensation for the use of municipal rights-of-way.

“The loss of locally negotiated franchise fees will create substantial hardship for municipalities in the general fund affecting loss of public services.”

Glanz noted that the city of Casper drafted a similar resolution.

•Approved on second reading an ordinance updating the franchise agreement with RT Communications to 5 percent for 10 years, similar to the other franchise agreements. The city has agreements with RT, Spectrum, Rocky Mountain Power and Wyoming Gas.

General Manager Becky Dooley said they had no problem supporting the agreement for voice services.

The city had discussed adding internet services to the agreement. City Attorney Kent Richins had recommended tabling second reading until more research could be conducted on adding internet service to the franchise agreement.

Dooley said currently Spectrum’s agreement is only for the video cable services and not for voice or internet services. “We want a level playing field with our competitors and we want to be treated the same way,” she said.

Glanz said the city raises about $520,000 in franchise fees from the four companies.

•Mayor Jim Gill read a proclamation in support of Arbor Day. Included in the proclamation was a statement to “urge all citizens to plant and care for trees to gladden the heart and promote the well being of this and future generations.”