Letter to the Editor – Feb. 27

We lost our battle with the state and it will hurt us in Sundance. I contacted Senator Driskill tonight but by the time I connected him, we missed the filing dates for budget amendments and the way the budget stands, we are going to lose $84,000. This is quite ironic in a state that says they will spend more on local government than ever before. The budget that starts this year and runs until July 2016, had all hardship payments removed in lieu of payments based strictly on population. This gives towns like Casper, our largest city, $1.6 million at the expense of small towns like us. I fought for us but lost. Below is my last letter to the JAC (Joint Appropriation Committee).
My name is Paul Brooks and I am the Mayor of Sundance. I have been the Mayor for the past three years and in that time we nearly doubled all of our rates, at this time the minimum bill is $84 dollars. We have also cut three full time positions. I am writing you about the Governor’s recommendation on the budget. Here in Sundance, we have limited sales tax and that means very little discretionary spending. The State of Wyoming has been very good to us but almost all grants, including our county’s consensus money, requires a match. With the current proposal we will be financially crippled.
Last night we met with the DEQ and they want us to transfer our waste this fall, and then I have 180 days to close the landfill. The numbers we have been provided by them would require me to raise the garbage pick-up and tipping to $125 per account to have the rate base to apply for a grant. I need discretionary spending to apply for that SLIB grant to close the landfill and keep the rate affordable.
Our water tank failed two years ago and we still don’t have it back on line. We are getting 66/33 % money from WWDC but it is difficult to make our match. I am being pushed to have the ISO model done and without that water tank, Fire Insurance will go up in Sundance. I also have a pending law suit because the land owner of the failing water tank site wants it reclaimed and I don’t have the money for that. That reclamation is called for in a 1949 agreement.
I am also trying to prepare for the 2015 take off of the Rare Earth Element Mine. This type of preparation takes discretionary funds.
I realize that communities with large populations or large sales tax receipts are not confronted by this type of problem but it is tough in the smallest of towns. I would respectfully request you go back to the Governor’s recommendation.
Sincerely Paul Brooks Mayor of Sundance