By Ernie Over
This past Tuesday a Riverton City Council meeting that was advertised as a public hearing and special meeting for the purpose of adopting the city’s 2023-2024 budget was held. After some limited discussion, about 10 minutes later, the budget was adopted. Or was it?
The council did not conduct a formal public hearing, as is required by statute, but just voted to approve the $39,075,480 spending proposal.
In past meetings, when a public hearing is required, the mayor announces the hearing and asks for public comment. If none is received, the mayor asks for a motion to close the hearing.
No such hearing was held, nor votes taken, on Tuesday. Instead, the mayor asked council members whether they had any additional questions, and hearing none, called for a motion to adopt the budget. The city’s Youtube recording of the meeting confirmed this.
When City Administrator Kyle Butterfield was asked about the omission of the required public hearing, he said, “I’ll have to look into that.” Similarly, Mayor Tim Hancock said, “Interesting. Yeah, you’re right.”
Riverton City Attorney Rick Sollars, however, when reached by telephone, said since the meeting was a single-agenda item meeting, that sufficed for a public hearing, and he said the action was appropriate.
The state statute relating to adoption of municipal budgets, 16-4-109, requires a hearing to be held prior to the adoption of the budget, and then the city must forward copies of the hearings and budget to the state.
The Wyoming Newspaper Association attorney is reviewing the meeting and the city’s failure to hold the required public hearing before adopting the budget. Keep reading the Ranger for more on this story.