‘Budget Week’ airs, winnows wish lists
FY2024 requests, commitments total $82.5M
SUBLETTE COUNTY – Last week was “Budget Week” for the Sublette County Board of Commissioners, who reviewed department heads and elected officials’ requested budgets, fitting into efficient time slots beginning Tuesday, June 6, after the regular meeting and continuing through Friday, June 9.
Sublette County commissioners chair Sam White, Tom Noble, Doug Vickrey, Mack Bradley and Dave Stephens attended every budget session in person.
These department requests, ongoing capital projects and General Fund commitments call for total appropriations of $82,534,746 or about $82.5 million.
That includes $24.5 million committed to the Sublette County Hospital District,
Last year’s fiscal budget was approved at $62, 215,000. Of that, $32,760,222 was spent as of May 1, according to the Sublette County Clerk’s Office.
Each fiscal year’s budget is based on the county’s assessed evaluation, Sublette County Clerk Carrie Long explained.
In 2022, the county’s assessed valuation was $2.5 billion, with each of the county’s 12 mils counted as having one-thousandth of that value. This year, the county’s assessed value is $3.9 billion, meaning each mil is worth more revenue than 2022.
County boards including the museums, golf course, recreation, fair and airports added another $5 million in requests, Long said, and commissioners told nonprofits including preschools to aim for more similar requests among themselves.
The county started last week total reserves of more than $248 million – $10 million as cash, $11.8 million for equipment and almost $144 million for depreciation. Throughout the week, millions of dollars were considered for potential capital projects and future reserves.
Commissioners reviewed their massive sets of documents attached to the summary of General Fund appropriations for this fiscal year 2023 and the upcoming FY 2024.
Commissioners made many changes and held lengthy discussions throughout the week.
Sublette County Clerk Carrie Long clarified Monday that any changes are not set in stone and commissioners requested clarification on a number of topics to be presented at the board’s June 20 regular meeting.
Up to date
One definite outcome of the budget process will be creation of the county’s Human Resources department managed by Andrea Jean, whose suggested pay scales were appreciated and used by department heads and elected officials for personnel requests.
Friday, Jean requested her salary and a modest office budget to be transferred from the Sublette County Clerk’s Office to the new line item, Human Resources.
Items such as the Sublette Center budget are in flux now before its upcoming merger with the Sublette County Hospital District; commissioners discussed pro-rating the county’s annual appropriation.
Another very recent bad-weather event affected county agencies’ emergency communications, when lightning struck the SIRS White Pine tower. Sheriff KC Lehr, SCUF Warden Shad Cooper and others told commissioners last week the top of the line system needs replacement parts, better weather protection and a generator so emergency communications are endangered.
Commissioners also asked Scott Cheeney of the Rendezvous Meadows Golf Course board and Rio Verde Engineering’s Mike Jackson to bring more detailed plans and options for a suction problem with a proposed fix estimated at more than $400,000. They advised Cheeney that with a $600,000 building request for golf-cart storage and maintenance, it might come down to getting one or the other.
A $1-million proposal to fix serious soil problems affecting stability of SCUF’s fire-training facility and its tower brought a conversation suggesting that the tower could be moved if an appropriate site was located.
Cooper advised the commissioners that the Boulder Fire Station is not large enough to store modern equipment with risk to firefighters and the equipment.
He brought a map showing how building a new firefighting and training facility 2.5 miles away from its current site in Boulder could provide acreage needed for the Marbleton
classroom building and tower plus expanded fire station.
That move to within 5 miles of the Barger area would improve fire insurance rates for many homeowners in those subdivisions, he said, and lose some current coverage on Boulder’s more rural roads. He was asked to explore a variety of options to use the current property first.
Vehicle replacements were another topic where added information was requested. Sublette County Conservation District’s Mike Henn requested vehicle replacements in its budget, citing the district board’s targets of eight years and 80,000 miles.
Also, old Ford flatbeds do not fit into new models, he said.
Commissioners said the county generally hopes to extend vehicle replacements well toward – or beyond – the 100,000-mile mark. They asked Henn to talk with his board. Several other department heads broached vehicle replacements but noted what they set aside for two vehicles at $50,000 each now bumps against estimates of $70,000 and higher for new trucks or specialized vehicles.
Although they went through elected county coroner Curt Covill’s requested budget before he arrived, they noted he did not request a new vehicle. Covill later told them he found a not-new Ford longbed truck worked fine to transport dead patients for autopsies in Sheridan or Colorado. The main problem was not having climate control and that at one time, a patient froze on an hours-long drive.
Commissioners provided him with $100,000 for a new vehicle, although Covill did not ask for one.
Sublette County commissioners chair Sam White, Tom Noble, Doug Vickrey, Mack Bradley and Dave Stephens will hear answers about questioned budget requests on Tuesday, June 20.
Sublette County’s proposed budget be posted and published on July 14 with a public meeting on July 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room. The budget will be adopted the next morning at the commissioners’ regular meeting, on July 18.
Each day’s budget sessions are recorded and agendas, links and audio are available on the Sublette County official website, sublettecounty.wy.gov, under the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Agendas.