In a rare split vote among the Riverton City Council members, a measure to allocate $140,000 from the half-percent Economic Development Tax to the cost of air service at Central Wyoming Regional Airport passed by only one vote. The tally was four in favor and three against with Mayor Richard Gard breaking the tie. While the three councilors who voted against the allocation, Karla Borders, Kristy Salisbury and Lindsey Cox, expressed their support for the airport, they individually said they were concerned that the tax revenue distribution was excluding smaller applicants for community events. They expressed a concern if more local events were not funded, the tax might not be passed the second time around. The recommendation to fund air service was a unanimous vote by the City’s EDGE Committee, the group who recommends how to spend the tax funds to the council. The total amount of the allocation was 11.67 percent of the tax collections up to the end of July.
Of the total Economic Development Tax funding estimate of $1.2 million dollars, $880,000 was granted to the Riverton Medical District for a new hospital, $100,000 was granted to Central Wyoming College’s Rocky Mountain Complex for Ag and Equine Science for visitor accommodations within the new 85,000 square foot center so public events could be hosted there, and $80,000 to Kifaru International for their new headquarters in Riverton at the former Linton’s Big R Building on Sunset. Kifaru is a manufacture of high end backpacking and other outdoor equipment. The total of the current allocations is $1,060,000, leaving $140,000 in the account. Tolstedt explained they were conservative in estimating the revenue from the tax, and could not expend more than what was coming in. He said the extra funds could be used in EDGE’s next round of funding.
The cost of providing SkyWest’s United Express service to the Riverton airport is funded 60 percent by the State of Wyoming’s Capacity Purchase Agreement with 40 percent of the $3.6 Million total cost to come from the local communities. To date, the Economic Development tax has provided 19 percent of the cost, or $700,000 while another $559,000, or 15.23 percent is needed to be raised. The city’s $140,000 allocation reduces the needed funding to about $440,000.
Councilors were also was busy at the August 2nd meeting with a number of bid awards. Council member approved a low bid of $142,482.58 from Wyoming Machinery Company for a Caterpillar 430 Backhoe with a Thumb Attachment. The purchase was budgeted for $146,500. Three bids for the backhoe were received, one of which was determined to be unresponsive to the city’s specs.
The council then approved the purchase of one new Caterpillar 306 Excavator in the amount of $82,259.09, also from Wyoming Machinery Company. The request for the equipment came from the Collections and Distribution Division.
In other bid awards the council approved:
• $51,532 award to Fremont Chevrolet, Buick, GMC for a new 2023 three-quarter ton 4×4 $39,108flatbed work truck for recycling operations, and
• $39,108 to Fremont Chevrolet, Buick, GMC for a 2023 Chevrolet three-quarter ton work truck for the Parks Division.
The council, on the advice of Public Works Director Kyle Butterfield and City Administrator Tony Tolstedt, approved an application to the State Loan and Investment Board for $2,982,000 in American Rescue Plan Funds for water meter replacement. The city’s water fund would contribute $284,000 of the cost making the total project cost at $3.550,000.
In a memo to the council, Butterfield said “the broadcasting and reading equipment to the city’s water metering infrastructure are aging, frequently breaking down and are no long supported by the manufacturer.” He wrote that “These items are critical in the accounting of potable water that is distributed and consumed throughout the city. They also enable Utility Billing to accurately invoice and receive revenue for both the water and wastewater utilities.” What’s more, he wrote, “recent low-lead regulations render current meters obsolete and prohibit city staff from repairing and replacing existing units. Consequently, staff would like to submit an application to the SLIB to support a water meter replacement project under the ARPA Water and Sewer Grant Program.”
The request to submit the application was granted.