GOSHEN COUNTY – The Goshen County Road and Bridge Department always presents their monthly information during the county commissioners first meeting of the month, which was a record setting meeting June 4. Due to this, on the June 18 commissioners meeting, no one from the department was in attendance.
As of June 17, Goshen County road and bridge superintendent Jerry Hort resigned. The County Commissioners named Val Hankins, who currently works for the road and bridge department, as the interim superintendent.
During the commissioners meeting June 18, Chairman Wally Wolski prepared written remarks, which he read to inform the public. He briefly discussed the plan of action for the days meeting, then shared a couple of his personal observations in regard to their previous meeting.
“Two weeks ago, we listened to all your concerns and suggestions,” Wolski said. “The three of us elected officials heard loud and clear your frustrations and sincerely appreciate the input. We took those comments seriously. Later last week, during a budget workshop, we informally discussed what was said and came up with a few immediate corrective measures – a five-point action plan for implementation. Here are the five points:
“Point number 1 – I would like to publicly announce that yesterday (June 17), Superintendent Hort formally submitted his letter of resignation and is officially retiring today (June 18) after working for Goshen County Road and Bridge for a total of 38 years. Later today, we will name an interim superintendent during his absence and begin the process of looking to refilling that vacant position.
“Point number 2 – I want to also announce that the commissioners are currently in discussions with Wyoming Caterpillar to obtain on the job training for all grader operators. Part of the training will focus upon proper techniques for crowing the roads and shoulders to divert unwanted water away from the roadway surface.”
Wolski continued, “Point number 3 – I want to pledge our full support for the establishment of an ongoing county road advisory group, made up of citizen volunteers. This group will be independent of the commissioners and tasked with developing maintenance criteria and other recommendations such as initiating a website presence. If anyone is interested in getting directly involved with this group, please indicate your intentions by specifying so on the sign-up sheet before leaving here today.
“Point number four – I want to further announce that we are currently exploring the feasibility of utilizing restricted County Road funds to make emergency road repairs over the next six months and bringing all dedicated county roads up to normal standards after the wetter than normal weather this spring. We intend to hire outside contractors to accomplish all these extra ordinary emergency services in a timely matter.
“Point number five – and last, but not least, I want to also announce that we will be formally debating and considering the merits of placing a special use county sales tax on the ballet specifically to be used only for county road maintenance so that the citizens of Goshen County can either vote it up or down, at an upcoming election for an alternative funding source.”
Wolski glanced the room to see the publics’ reaction.
“These five action plans may not be the answer to all your grievances, but we feel they are certainly a good first step in the right direction in addressing many of your collective concerns,” Wolski said. “To begin alleviating some of the critical road conditions, to insure your roads are in good driving conditions again.”
Commissioners John Ellis and Cody Cox had no further comments at the time of Wolski’s prepared statement.
The commissioner meeting continued in accordance with the agenda.
Reports were given from the county sheriff, county attorney, county treasurer, county clerk and the county fairgrounds.
“I’m certainly supportive of the initiatives you just described,” county attorney Eric Boyer. “I’d like to point out that part of the rational for needing to carefully consider use of the funds as described by Mr. Wolski as chairman and the need to potentially to get outside contractors is because of funding use limitations that don’t permit the use of those funds by county road employees and the requirement that those funds be utilized for emergency purposes. I want to clarify to folks that thats not money just laying around.
“I want to encourage you (the public) to continue to work and help provide solutions. I think it’s clear that these folks (the commissioners) have taken the input the county has said at the last meeting very, very serious, and this is the kind of thing that helps make local government work and it’s critical to have that feedback. I appreciate everyone that’s here.”
Boyer discussed a resolution for broadband joint powers board between Goshen, Niobrara and Converse Counties. This would be a high speed internet service board for public and private use. The board accepted resolution 2019-5 unanimously.
Boyer also presented a resolution for the Evergreen Court, which transfers property from the county to Evergreen Court. It was also accepted unanimously by the commissioners.
Goshen County Treasurer Leticia Dominguez gave her update. The Goshen County treasurers general cash position as of effective date report (June 17), including all outstanding warrants is approximately $1.5 million.
The county is in the final 30 days before they must approve a balanced budget for fiscal year 2019-2020. The commissioners had an in-depth overview of the process to date and where they currently stand from a financial standpoint.
County Clerk Cynthia Kenyon has the duties of being the chief budget officer. She gave a report on the county’s budget.
“I can say in the seven years that I’ve been doing the budget, it’s never been super easy,” Kenyon said. “We’ve had declining revenues each and every year.”
They started the budget process in March and Kenyon has met with each department head to hear what they need and what they are facing. The use of grants are being used more and more for various items.
“When we got to the budget process, at the very beginning,” Kenyon said, “we were about $700,000 short, and that’s not increasing anything, that’s just the nature of things here in Goshen County. We usually start pretty short. Right now, we have that down to about $270,000 short. We need to, once again, take out what we have to statutorily. We need to look at what level that will be. We just have to see where to go where to go from there.
“Honestly, right now, I’m not sure where we cut to get this other $270,000 and I know we have some additional budget workshops coming up. When it comes to something like a program or department, that we need to reject a budget and request that they turn back in for a certain amount or something, that’s something the commissioners need to do. I’m still working really hard. We’re in a really tight spot, again. But, we’ll get through it.”
The commissioners carried on with business as normal according to the revised agenda.