Revenue, growing Worland to be focus in 2022 for City of Worland
January 6, 2022
WORLAND — As 2022 gets underway, Worland Mayor Jim Gill said he wants the focus for himself, the council and the city on growing Worland.
In his first year as mayor, Gill started the Grow Worland Initiative, looking at ways to grow the community and in an interview Monday he said he can see some of that growth occurring in the area around North Fourth Street.
Unique Precisions, a manufacturing company from California relocated to Worland and has spent months renovating the old Coors building into its tool manufacturing business.
The Ten Sleep Brewery in Ten Sleep has outgrown its facility in Ten Sleep and to keep up with demand, the microbrewery production will move to Worland this year, Gill noted. They are locating to Lawson Street, in the same general area as Unique Precisions.
With growth in the northwest area of the city, Gill said there is talk with some of the businesses to form an improvement district to help fund street and utility improvements in the area.
There are a number of other construction projects completed in 2021 (Big Horn Cooperative Tire Shop) and will be completed in 2022 – Sunlight Federal Credit Union’s new facility; Pit Stop Travel Center set to open this month and Big Horn Coop Travel Center set to open early spring.
Amish Origins also expanded their production moving from Lane 14 to South Flat Road.
Gill said he has to give a pat on the back to the Washakie Development Association for helping with several of the projects. “They are doing good things to help Worland grow,” he said,
The city is also seeing growth at the Worland Municipal Airport with an increased interest in general aviation hangars. He said the Bureau of Land Management is also in preliminary stages of considering the airport for a regional base for wildland firefighting operations.
Another way they are hoping to grow Worland is in appealing the 2020 census that showed, a drop of 714 residents in Worland (13%), dropping from 5,487 in 2010 to 4,773 in 2020. according to the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau also showed that Washakie County declined in population by 848 residents, or 9.9%, dropping from 8,533 to 7,685 and Ten Sleep showed a decline of 14 residents (5.4%) for a population of 246.
While the census figures were reported in the early fall, Gill said the procedure to appeal could not occur until the first of the year.
He said sewage outflow only decreased 3% in the past 10 years, well below the Census Bureau’s 13%. He said that while an appeal will cost some money, the council believes it will be money well spent.
The drop in population will impact sales and use tax revenue, which is based on population. With the population dropping below 5,000, Gill said, the city will no longer receive Urban System funding, which will be used to reconstruct Washakie Avenue.
During the Dec. 21 council meeting, engineering representative Mike Donnell said with the limited funding they may have to look at a downscaled project focusing on the worst area between Eighth and 15th streets.
Gill said street improvement will continue to be a priority for the city in 2022, noting the large project along Culbertson Avenue that was completed in 2021, using optional one-cent sales tax funding and grants from the State Loan and Investment Board.
“We never had street lights there and now we do. This is a project that benefits the city of Worland, the farming community and Wyoming Sugar,” Gill said.
He said the double-gutter projects the past few years have improved the bumps in the area south of 10th Street to Second with more work to be done. He said they will also be working on alley aprons.
In addition to looking ahead to 2022, Gill took a moment this week to look at 2021 accomplishments and challenges.
“One of the greatest memory and honor we had last year was the returning home of Lt. [Ray] Krogman. The community did us proud that whole scenario from his return to being interned at Riverview Memorial Gardens,” Gill said.
Another proud and honorable moment for the city in 2021 was the 9/11 committee’s event to remember the 9/11 terror attacks 20 years later.
“It was much appreciated and well attended,” he said.
Similar to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic produced some challenges, but Gill said, “I was proud of our department heads. They put in protocols to keep the employees safe and the employees had a good attitude of accepting the protocols,” Gill said.
Some of the protocols included wearing masks.
He said the city offered a voluntary program for flu and COVID vaccinations.
The city also saw three long-time employees retire or will be retiring — Reuben Garcia, Daniel Garcia, and Dave Emerson.
The Worland Municipal Court got back up and running after being shut down due to COVID with Gill commending court clerk Nancy Dellos, Judge Marci Argeris and City Attorney Kent Richins for getting it back up and running and for the “work they do to keep citizens aware of city codes and laws; they are a big part of what we do.”
Gill said in 2022 the city will also have to fight to keep other revenue sources such as the direct distribution. He said Governor Mark Gordon has said he would like to keep the direct distribution intact for cities, towns and counties for this upcoming budget; however, Gill noted the funding has remained stagnant over the past five years but inflation and operating costs have not.
There are several city departments that can fund themselves, such as sewer, water and sanitation, but Gill noted that while the city has a great park system and the parks department works hard to keep them well maintained, all funding comes directly from the general fund.
Also coming from the general fund is maintenance and operation for the Riverview Memorial Gardens.
Gill said the city does receive some revenue from the sell of plots and for grave work; however the revenue is about $20,000, compared to expenses of about $200,000.
“The cemetery is looking the best that it has in a long while, but a lot of cemeteries are financed through special tax district,” Gill said.
A tax district is something no city council has wanted to consider but it may be getting to a point where the city, with assistance from the county consider a tax district. The district would have to incorporate areas outside the city limits.
Cody has a cemetery district to fund its cemeteries, Johnson County has a cemetery district to fund the cemeteries in Kaycee and Buffalo; Big Horn County has multiple cemetery districts — Burlington, Byron, Cowley, Deaver-Frannie, Emblem, Lovell, Otto and South Central Big Horn County Cemetery District (Greybull) and there is a Hot Springs County Cemetery District for the two Thermopolis cemeteries.
The Town of Basin owns and operates its cemetery without a tax district.