Sublette County 2009 Budget: $166 Million
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
July 21, 2009
The Sublette County Commissioners held their final public meeting for their 2009 budget on Monday evening. They will vote to approve it on Tuesday at their regular commissioner meeting. The total budget approved for 2009 is $166,090,089.
Click on this link for a printable PDF of the Final Budget Summary and Budget Depreciative Reserve for fiscal year 09-10. (4 pages, PDF, 192K)
Highlights of public hearing discussion:
- Recycling Centers Editor's Note: This section has been revised from the original story posting to clarify the costs to the county for operating the two recycling centers. The Commissioners lamented that the cost to fund the two county recycling centers and programs still far exceeds what it would cost to bury the items being recycled. The commission was only willing to fund the recycle programs to the $100.00 per ton level. The real cost of recycling is nearer $500.00 per ton in Pinedale and $1000.00 per ton in Marbleton. The Commissioners couldnít justify spending that kind of money on a program with that level of subsidy when the cost to bury the waste is somewhere near $30-45 per ton. "Weíve had 12 years to get people to recycle," said Commissioner Bill Cramer, "but they just arenít doing it." The Commissioners all agreed recycling is the right thing to do, but with the price tag of more than three times the cost to not recycle, they questioned if they were spending taxpayer dollars wisely in subsidizing the effort. Combined, the Commission allocated $62,000 to the two recycling centers. Of that, Pinedale Recycling was given $43,200, Big Piney $18,800. The Commissioners asked the Recycling Board to see if they can help come up with answers to the question of cost effectiveness. Marti Seipp queried the Commissioners if they would be willing to work with a private entity, if some company came forward as interested in managing the recycling center as a private venture. The Commissioners said they would entertain options and offers. Editor's note: Based on a later discussion with Marti Seipp, Coordinator of the Sublette County Recycling staff, the Pinedale Recycling Center will only be able to operate another three months with the available funding. The operation of the center beyond that time is highly uncertain. Pinedale Recycling Center
- The Commissioners have placed a hiring freeze for full-time positions. There may be some part-time people picked up, but no more full-time employees.
- Most organizations who applied last year and again this year will get the same level of funding they had last year. There were no funding increases from last yearís levels.
- The Commissioners decided to not fund any new human service agencies this year. Ones that had been funded last year were funded this year. Two human service agencies that were not funded this year, because they didnít request money, were the Sublette Community Partnership (Jeffrey Jacquet/Michael Coburn, www.sublette-se.org), and the McKenzie Meningitis Foundation.
- The County will take care of handling bookkeeping for the Ag Center rather than have the Ag Center Board continue to be responsible for that.
- The County will take over administration for the Sublette County Firefighters rather than have the Fire Board be responsible for that.
- In 2008 the County cash reserves were $5 Million. This year the Cash Reserve is $10 Million.
- The Commissioners remain committed to the Joint Powers Board that is in place between the county and the incorporated towns in the County (Pinedale, Big Piney and Marbleton). They will continue to help the Towns as much as they can to fund their necessary infrastructure improvement projects. "Thatís our way of giving them some money and we get to help determine what the use is," said Commissioner Cramer.
- Sublette County Assessor Roxanna Jensen commented that the county has more than $15 Million on the books in unpaid taxes still owed to the county. "The budget is based on the assumption that everyone will pay their taxes," said Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford.
- Commissioner Bill Cramer commented they also have money outstanding and owed to them by some county organizations, specifically the Sublette County Rural Health Care Board, which would be nice if it got repaid. The original deal with the SCRHCB was that the Commissioners would act like the "bank" to front the money for building the new clinics, with the expectation that the SCRHCD would repay the $18 million in the future. (This reporter was covering the public meeting where this "deal" was originally made by the Commissioners when they agreed to front money to the SCRHCB as an informal loan with the expectation the SCRHCB would pay back these funds so the Commissioners could have it back to use for something else in the future.) This issue is a sore spot with the Commissioners because the SCRHCB is now trying to get out of paying the money back to the Commissioners.
- Commissioner John Linn said he is especially happy with being able to fund the Class II road program, mass notification, and landfill improvements. He would like to see more efforts put into a county-wide mosquito spraying program. He said he feels the funding they have given to health care, fire, Sheriff Department and Search & Rescue is "about right."
- Commissioner Joel Bousman was happy with being able to tuck money away into reserve accounts in anticipation of down the road when money might not be so plentiful. They County will have around $90 Million in carry-over into next yearís budget.
- Commissioner Bill Cramer was pleased with the work they have done working cooperatively with the three incorporated towns in the county (Pinedale, Big Piney, Marbleton). Their contributions help the towns with infrastructure improvements to sewer and water. County contributions also go to the airports, fairgrounds, and senior centers.
- The County Commissioners said they will continue to fund the production and printing of the annual county budget report which explains how the county spends taxpayer money.
- The County is upgrading and redesigning the county website. It is expected to go live at the end of October. The new website will have enhanced features, including the ability of the public to sign up for notifications of a variety of kinds of information (public notices, bid notices, job openings, alerts, news, etc).
- The next Commissioner meeting is Tuesday, July 21, 2009, starting at 9:00 AM in the Commissioner meeting room of the Sublette County Courthouse in Pinedale. Printable Agenda (PDF)