PINEDALE – At the Pinedale Town Council’s regular meeting Monday night, a revamped approach to “contracts for services” inspired Mayor Bob Jones to officially withdraw his June 1 veto that pulled the $94,500 in funding for nonprofit organizations and moved it to road maintenance.
“I’m happy to rescind the veto at this time,” Jones said early in the discussion, which was not on the agenda but broached during Citizens Concerns. “All we’ve got to do is clean up our contracts and make this right.”
According to councilman Matt Murdock, he’s been in touch with other municipalities, trying to find, what he deems, a legal route for funding the nonprofits. His conclusion: Any funding from the town must be used for “disadvantaged Pinedale residents.”
“I don’t like the word ‘poor,’” said Murdock, explaining why he chose to use the term “disadvantaged” instead of the language used in Wyoming statute. “I feel ‘disadvantaged’ is broad.”
No one, whether in the audience or on the council, argued against the idea of improving the town’s oversight on funding the nonprofits through an improved contract process. But many wondered why the entire issue wasn’t hashed out during the six-week budget process, rather than after the third and final budget reading was approved.
“I think the timing was questionable,” said resident John Paravicini. “And I think we could have solved this a long time ago.”
“I have to disagree with the way it was done, having a veto – and obviously doing it while part of the council was gone,” said councilman Jim Brost, referring to the June 12 meeting.
According to law, a veto must be addressed and/or overturned at the next regular meeting, but on June 12, two council members who had voted in support of the nonprofits were scheduled to be out of town. Brost called in at the last minute, saying he would also not be able to make the meeting due to unforeseen circumstances, which meant that the meeting could not occur due to a lack of quorum.
Jones insisted Monday night that the timing of his veto was simply due to legal limitations.
“I had no choice on the timing for this,” he said. “Statutorily, I had to do it then.”
But not everyone agreed.
“There was plenty of time during the budget process to discuss this exact wording,” said councilman Tyler Swafford. “Therefore, it wouldn’t have been such an out-of-the-blue situation, inciting more public outcry or outrage.”
Some, particularly in the audience, wondered why the mayor decided to use his veto on nonprofit funding this year, instead of the previous two years of his term.
“Why is this year’s budget any different form years past?” asked one resident.
“Because it just kept perpetuating itself,” Jones replied. “I brought it up every single year and every single year, it was ignored and I decided to draw the line and say, ‘No, not until we make these contracts right.’ … Philosophically, absolutely, I’m very conservative. I don’t like spending money on things I don’t think the town should be doing.”
Others also wondered why the focus was of the proposed contracts is on the “disadvantaged” at all.
“The only thing I don’t like (about the proposed contracts) is the ‘disadvantaged,’” said councilwoman Nylla Kunard. “This bothers me.”
“I find ‘disadvantaged’ a lot broader and more acceptable than ‘poor,’” said Murdock.
“My contention is – it’s still a contract for service,” said Paravicini. “You are able to not label anything.”
What the proposed contracts ultimately look like remains to be seen, but according to town attorney Ed Wood, the veto is officially rescinded and “the budget is being reinstated in full.” However, the council will ultimately have to OK the individual contracts with the nonprofit organizations.
“These contracts all have to be approved,” Wood said.
In other news from the meeting:
The council then voted unanimously to sign a letter of support for the $25,000 grant application.
The town has struggled to fill seats in recent years on P&Z and the Park and Tree Board.
Jones nominated engineer Brian Gray to be on P&Z Monday night and he reluctantly accepted the nomination.
“I think it’s critical we get a fourth or fifth person,” said town engineer Hayley Ryckman, explaining that it’s proving costly for applicants, since they’re required to advertise prior to meetings that haven’t always occurred – thus leading to the need to re-advertise.
Jones then tried to nominate Ryckman but was told that’s not allowed.
Councilman Brost also offered to serve on the board, thereby bringing the number to four, but Jones said he was unwilling to nominate him.
Brost also offered to serve on the short-handed Park and Tree Board but figured that wouldn’t pan out either.
“I’m assuming, since it’s me that’s volunteering, you’re not apt to have me on any of the boards?” he asked Jones.
“That’s correct,” Jones said, adding that he wouldn’t do so “as long as you’re fighting against the town. That’s what you do.”