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By Seth Romsa
Staff Writer 

Commissioners hear budget request for youth alternatives

 

March 18, 2021



WORLAND - Sarah Garcia of Washakie County Youth Alternatives discussed financing and the importance of the county’s diversion program during the Washakie County Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

Funding to the diversion programs is expected to be cut drastically this year due to declining state revenues.

The diversion program is a program that allows for youth to choose an alternate pathway through programming, supervision and supports rather than the traditional adult record, detention or other formal means. This opportunity allows for youth to have a low-level citation or a first-time offense removed should they complete the diversion program.

If the youth does not complete the diversion program they are sent through the circuit court system.

The current funding for the program is $10,000 from the county, $18,657.52 from the Volunteers of America Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Grant and $22,500 from the Wyoming Community Juvenile Services Board.

The funding from the Volunteers of America is not yet known for the current grant year, and the Juvenile Services Board grant will no longer be available after June of this year. The funding from the services board comes from the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS), which has already had funds reduced by the Wyoming Legislature earlier this year.

The grants and the county funds currently help to pay for Garcia’s position.

Garcia came to the commissioner to discuss the potential of the county funding $24,000 to pay her salary so that grant funding can go directly toward operating the diversion program which faces threat of being eliminated with the reduced funding.

Garcia said she had already held discussions about the program with Chairman Commissioner Fred Frandson, County Clerk Mary Grace Strauch, Worland Mayor Jim Gill and Worland Clerk/Treasurer Tracy Glanz.

Garcia said that the city told her they would send her a letter for when she should go and talk to the Worland City Council during a budget session, as Garcia is hopeful the county and the city can split the $24,000 cost 50/50.

DISPATCH BUDGET DISCUSSION

The County Commission met with Gill, Glanz, Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness, Worland Police Chief Gabe Elliott, Worland Fire Chief Chris Kocher and County Attorney John Worrall to discuss taking $20,000 out of the dispatch reserve fund.

This funding would be used to pay for Washakie County Emergency Management Assistant Director/Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Hazen for additional work brought on by additional items being funded by the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) funding. Hazen was also in attendance to discuss the projects and need for the dispatch reserve transfer.

The commissioners approved the action to move the funds, but would also need approval from the Worland City Council and the Worland Fire Protection District No. 1 Board to officially move the money to help pay Hazen for the additional labor.

The council approved the use of the funds unanimously at their meeting Tuesday night.

Kocher also brought a suggestion to the board, asking if the three entities would consider taking $100,000 out of dispatch reserve in order to help reduce the dispatch budget expense for the city, county and fire district for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year.

If the $100,000 on top of the $20,000 is taken out of the reserve then that would leave $140,000 in the account; the account is required to maintain at least $100,000 in it.

Kocher proposed it as a one-time option, but the commissioners decided to not take any action and instead hold another discussion on the additional $100,000 on April 6, once the Wyoming State Legislature officially makes a decision on funding for counties and cities.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday:

•The commissioners held a hearing to increase funds to the CARES Act funding Washakie County Public Health for $83,828 and two increases of $70,000 each from the Department of Homeland Security SHSP Grant.

•Keith Bower of road and bridge said they have begun grading roads, and can begin filling in potholes once they dry up. Bower and the commissioners also discussed signage being stolen, and hope that those that are stealing the signs realize that is costing the taxpayers more money as the signs are paid for either by the county, city or state.

•Washakie County Public Health Nurse Manager Amanda Heinemeyer said that bad debt for the Family Planning Services in 2020 was $338 and had it approved by the commissioners.

•Gary Bertsch had an access permit approved. Brandon Bower had a right-of-way easement approved.

•The county extended a lease with the Veterans Association (VA) to rent the Worland VA Clinic located next to the Washakie Medical Center.

•The commissioners entered into executive session with Nikki Donahue of Hake Realty and Worrall to discuss contract negotiations. The commissioners later said they would direct Donahue to submit a counteroffer for the soon-to-be former Washakie County Library located at 1019 Coburn Ave.

•The commissioners entered into executive session with Worrall and District Court Clerk Christy Schneider to discuss personnel.

 
 

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