Letters to the Editor – Nov. 1

Dear Patrons:

In response to the recent mailer sent out to Crook County box holders by Otto Schlosser, in which he claims that the Crook County School District wastes between $12.5 and $18 million each year, I would like to provide correct information.

The following information taken from the Wyoming Department of Education website, provides an overview of how each Wyoming District is funded:

“The Wyoming School Foundation Program provides a guaranteed level of funding to every Wyoming public school district. This “Guarantee” is essentially a block grant and is based on a number of factors – the most important of which is the number of students enrolled in the district in the prior year.

Other components having a significant impact on a district’s Guarantee include special education and pupil transportation costs incurred in the prior year and the number, size and location of certain statutorily defined “small schools” operated by the district. Very small school districts meeting certain enrollment criteria may qualify for additional funding.

Once a district’s Guarantee is established, that funding level is compared to the district’s available local revenue sources. If a district’s local revenues turn out to be less than its Guarantee, the state of Wyoming makes up the difference through a series of entitlement payments distributed to the district throughout the school year.”

To further familiarize yourself with the facts about funding processes you can visit the following website: http://edu.wyoming.gov/Programs/schools/school_foundation.aspx

The source of the following information is from the Wyoming State Legislature’s Legislative Service Office (LSO), which represents each school district’s yearly funding level as specified by the State of Wyoming’s school funding formula. If you go to their website at legisweb.state.wy.us and type “2012-2013 Estimated Block Grant Guarantee” in the Search Box, you can access the same information. These are estimates given to each District by the State figured on last year’s student numbers. Crook County conservatively sets its budget based on these numbers, but the final number, which is based on Average Daily Membership (ADM) of students from the 2011-2012 school year is not known or final until late Fall 2012.

The LSO information shows the guaranteed funding level set by the State, for each District, and includes the cost per student for all 48 Wyoming school districts. This document was sent out to school districts in March and the current year’s funding level is based on October’s enrollment of 1093 students for the previous year. Using this data, the correct assumptions are as follows:

*CCSD #1’s annual general fund budget is just over $20 million

*A $3.5 million cash reserve is also maintained by the District

*Mr. Schlosser charges that the Board is wasting between $12.5 and $18 million each year. That leaves $2 million-$7.5 million with which to operate the district. Salaries and benefits make up just under 80% of the budget (the State average being 82%), or roughly $16 million each year. Which employees and how many is Mr. Schlosser planning to terminate?

*The cost to educate a child in Crook County is $18,304

*The average cost to educate a child in the State of Wyoming is $15,416

*Crook County’s 1093 kids attend one of 6 buildings in three towns that draw from four communities. We are a very unique district in that regard. It costs more to educate kids in Crook County than some districts, in part because of the higher fixed costs associated with the operation of multiple schools in multiple communities.

*On the issue of property tax: The 25 mill levy (State Statute 21-13-102) and the 6 mill levy (State Statute 21-13-201) assessed on property tax is set by the State of Wyoming, not Crook County. The only mill levy that the School Board sets is for the Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) which is a ½ mill levy. The Board could decide to not levy the ½ mill. This would impact the higher education services that our District receives from Eastern Wyoming College.

In regard to returning unused tax payer money: Crook County Treasurer, Mary Kuhl, states, “There is no provision in state statute to do so.” She will gladly explain the details.

I hope this serves to provide Crook County Patrons with factual and substantiated information.

Sincerely,

Dena Mills (Incumbent)

Crook County School District Hulett Trustee Candidate

Dear Editor,

Let me ask this simple question: Are we Wyoming folks or California folks? Shall we follow in the footsteps of that bankrupt state by continuing to ask for MORE government services at each election or shall we be satisfied with what we currently have and making our own way in life? That is the fundamental question.

In paying my property tax last week I see the long list of services that I am paying for. They all seem worthy at some point, and each of them in isolation does not seem excessive, but one by one they add up, and now we are being asked to consider yet another item to be added, for the CCNRD. Does a “temporary” tax ever go away? The “optional” one cent sales tax certainly hasn’t, and how many times does a tax slowly increase year by year as the “need for more revenue” is demanded?

Many years ago I lived in California I must admit, but I escaped the high taxation and have enjoyed living in Wyoming for the last six years. I would hate to see the same thing happen here, bit by bit. I love Crook County exactly as it is. Don’t you?

Mac Frank

Devils Tower

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my opposition to the conservation district tax hike that will be on the ballot in November. As a rancher, volunteer firefighter, and landowner in Crook County, I fully respect the land which so many of us fight to protect and make a living from. However, after careful consideration, I am opposed to the conservation district tax hike for several reasons:

• The way this ballot measure is written, there is no accountability on how the money will be spent.

• There is no wording in the tax hike that forces the current or any future trustees to spend the money on a specific program; it just goes into their general fund.

• There is no provision in this tax hike for auditing how monies collected have been spent after the fact, and there is no end point for the tax.

• Once passed, we’ll be stuck with it indefinitely. That is a very open ended and dangerous way to write a tax hike, as there is no way to know that our tax money will be spent wisely and once approved, the taxpayers will have no say in the matter.

Therefore, you should vote AGAINST Proposition 1 on November 6.

Dallas, Becky Rolf and Family

Jackpot Ranch

Dear Editor,

Several weeks ago I wrote a letter expressing concern and criticism of the service being provided by Powder River Energy Corporation to the Hulett area. When ever I submit a letter that is critical it is always with the thought that I will be challenged, or criticized back, especially when as I did, suggesting escalating the problem to a governmental department. So when Mr. Easley called me to discuss my letter I was not certain as to what to expect. Our conversation was cordial, and informative, he was professional and expressed concern, and mentioned the plans to have a town hall meeting in Hulett to discuss the problem. In truth I was surprised someone of his position would take the time to personally call. I worked for a large corporation before moving here and even though the claim was made about concern for the customer, none of the executives I worked for would have made the call himself. Mr. Easley even offered his phone number for me to call if there were any more problems. Unfortunately there was another outage last Thursday, after normal business hours, after waiting for an hour debating whether to call or not, I did. Mr. Easley was not available, so I left a message, as polite as my frustrated state of mind would allow, and did not expect any follow up until the next day.

Much to my surprise I received a call from another member of the management team within the hour, Mr. Penning. He explained Mr. Easley was on the road and had asked him to contact me; he was as professional and courteous as Mr. Easley had been and we discussed the outage. Much to my surprise later when Mr. Easley did get back in cell phone range he himself called me to make certain my dissatisfaction was recognized. True to his word he and his team had the meeting here and the situation was explained, but not just with a “dog and pony” show, a thorough and clear explanation.  And most amazing, an acceptance of responsibility for the mistakes made and a sincere concern for those effected. It was impressive and reassuring to see their plans in progress to correct the problems. In the business world upper management accepting responsibility for mistakes made is not something often seen. PRECorp’s management team, and the representative of the Board of Directors that was present, showed by their proactive attitude that they are responsive and concerned as to the needs of “us members”. I have confidence they will make every effort to correct this problem. Thank you all for giving up your Saturday for the meeting.

I would also suggest we members offer our gratitude to the hard working “Line Crews” for their extra efforts to restore service during these numerous outages, many of them late in the night, quickly and efficiently as possible. You are greatly appreciated!

Dave Craig

Dear Editor,

We support the proposed constitutional amendment C. The amendment would allow the District Court to provide better service to the people of Crook County.

Joseph M. Baron

Mark L. Hughes

Francis L. (Frank) Stevens

Jim Edwards

Joe Hallock

Wayne Wilson

Dear Editor,

I am writing to urge my fellow Crook County residents to vote AGAINST the Conservation District Tax for the Crook County Natural Resources District in the November election. The CCNRD has already come to us with this question more than once. Last time they asked for a 1/2 mil tax. They lost, and now they’ve come back to ask for a whole mil instead. It’s time that the CCNRD learns that “no means no!”

Just take a look at the CCNRD’s Long Range Plan. Do we really need to give more money to a group that plans to distribute “printed materials” in order to help us reduce waste? We can’t support funding a tax with no clear spending objectives. In the long term, we have absolutely no idea what this money is going to be used for. Voting yes would mean opening the door to as much environmentalist nonsense as 1 mil can buy.

Sincerely,

Chris Ericsson

Beulah

Vote AGAINST Prop 1!

I have been a Crook County resident for years and I can’t believe the nerve of the CCNRD for once again asking the tax payers of Crook County for a tax hike. Not only have the residents already said NO to this proposal before, but the timing of this request is just awful. This country is in the worst recession in generations and many of the hard working families of Crook County are struggling just to make ends meet.

The proponents of this badly written tax say that the amount is low. That money may seem low to them, but to a senior on a fixed income, that money could mean the difference between buying a much needed medication or not.

Vote AGAINST Prop 1!

Josh Kammerer