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Commissioners debate protocol for department heads

All things change. But not everyone likes changes.

Sublette County Commissioners discussed new protocol implemented after the first of the

year that recommends department heads and the public submit written requests to be placed

on the commissioners’ regular meeting agenda. Chairman David Burnett and Commissioners

Mack Rawhouser, Tom Noble, Doug Vickrey and Joel Bousman were in attendance at the

April 2 County Commissioners’ meeting.

In the past, elected officials and department heads were given standing placement on the

agenda. As former chairman Andy Nelson was replaced by Burnett, Burnett asked that the

agenda be less generic and that a form be submitted for reports, requests and to be placed

on the agenda. The form is located on the county’s website and requests a basic description

for the agenda item.

During the April 2 Sublette County Commissioners’ meeting, Commissioner Bousman

said he thought the form was additional work for department heads who have always been on

the agenda – specifically Road and Bridge Supervisor Billy Pape. He also asked that Pape’s

standing position as the first item on the agenda be maintained “to get him back to work.”

During the April 2 agenda, Pape was not on the agenda until 10:15 a.m. He arrived at the

commissioners’ meeting that began at 9 a.m.

Burnett said the commissioners still maintain an open comment period for constituents

and department heads to walk in. However, he said the early notice is to ensure commissioners

have sufficient background about agenda items before the actual meetings.

Noble said in at least one case this month, a constituent called him about an issue after

seeing the item on the agenda. Rawhouser said he also preferred the additional information

so he could get background on the issues rather than being blindsided at meetings.

County Clerk Carrie Long agreed to automatically place Pape as the first item on every

agenda. It was agreed by commissioners that other department heads, who do not necessarily

need to report monthly, could submit a form when they have a specific need to speak with

commissioners. Burnett said many department heads will only need to be at the meetings

once or twice a year, while others have a need to be there every month.

Additional news from the commissioners’ meeting included:

• Following a closed executive session, commissioners made a motion to purchase Lot 97

of the High Meadows Subdivision for $15,000. The lot will be used as a bus stop as progress

continues to pave Meadowlark Lane.

• Commissioners signed three contracts to provide law enforcement services using the

Sublette County Sheriff’s Department inside the town limits of Big Piney, Marbleton and

Pinedale for a cost of $10 per year for each municipality. The contracts, typically signed to

run from July 1 to June 30, were not signed last year.

• A motion passed to accept a proposal from Cat Urbigkit and Deanne Swain for a new

“State of the County” directory. Urbigkit reported that the project costs are the same amount

as last year – $8,000.

• Catherine Summerall, Pinedale resident and bookkeeper at the Pinedale Library, brought

forward a concern that Sublette County pays 100 percent of retirement contributions for

county employees. She stated that she was in touch with the Wyoming Retirement System

and was told that Sublette County is the only county in Wyoming to pay 100 percent of

retirement contributions. Summerall stated that employees need to take some responsibility

and pay for a portion of their retirement benefits to ease the “burden” on taxpayers. Deputy

County Attorney Matt Gaffney said former county clerk Mary Lankford looked into the issue

several years ago and found that many other counties pay 100 percent of employee retirement

benefits. Burnett said that the commissioners will investigate Summerall’s concerns.

• Commissioners adjourned into a closed executive session with Gaffney and several

county employees. Following the executive session, Burnett announced that no action would

be taken.

• An additional 26 burned homes remain in the Hoback Ranches because homeowners

could not remove them before winter. Commissioners agreed to continue allowing free use of

the Sublette County landfill as those homes are demolished, but anyone with trash from new

construction will need to pay for disposal. The debris weight will be documented so landfill

fees could be used as a county match for any future grants. To date, it was estimated landfill

fees waived for Hoback Ranches exceeded $600,000.

• Commissioners gave a cold reception to Sublette County Fairgrounds Manager Jay

Brower’s proposal to use the complex during winter months for indoor storage rentals. He

said an initial measurement showed the building could house as many as 50 recreational

vehicles for winter storage and generate an addition $17,000 revenue annually. He said he

has researched policies and contracts used by other facilities. Commissioners said they were

unwilling to add that service unless there is proof no one in the county is providing it. There

were also concerns of liability if a vehicle caught fire, damaging other vehicles in storage.

Noble said he received one complaint from a business owner who provides the service

after the issue was placed on the commissioners’ agenda.

Bousman thanked Brower, saying he appreciated any attempts to maximize revenue for

the facility.

• A resolution passed designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

• Two tax abatements were approved, resulting in $18,000 in tax refunds.

• Commissioners discussed a proposal by Sublette County Clerk Long to use an automated

payroll system that would enable county employees to log in by phone or computer rather

than maintaining paper timecards. She said currently every department handles employee

payroll differently. She said the automated payroll would save time, about one-half a position

in her office. Bousman disagreed with the proposal, saying department heads do not have the

time to oversee and many employees do not have the computer expertise or access to sign

themselves in and out. He used Road and Bridge as an example with 36 employees working

in different locations throughout the county.


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