June 26, 2017 (FULL DETAILED REPORT)Wednesday, July 12th, 2017
STATE OF WYOMING ) LANDER, WYOMING
) ss. OFFICE OF THE FREMONT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF FREMONT ) JUNE 26, 2017
FULL DETAILED REPORT
The Board of Fremont County Commissioners met in Special Session at 5:30 p.m. with the following members present: Chairman Travis Becker, Vice-Chairman Larry Allen, Jennifer McCarty and Clarence Thomas. Commissioner Price was absent for personal reasons. Fremont County Clerk Julie A. Freese was present for the meeting.
A Public Hearing was held, as advertised, to hear comments regarding the E-911 Special Revenue Fund and Fremont County’s Fiscal Year 2017-18 proposed budget. Eleven people were present in the audience (a complete list is on file in the Commissioners’ Office).
The hearing opened with the E-911 Budget hearing. Communications Supervisor Carl Freeman gave an update on both the E-911 and Dispatch budget, and stated all anticipated revenue will come from User Fees from agencies for which Dispatch provides a service for and from the 911 surcharge money collected from each traditional and wireless devices. Effective July 2016, pre-paid wireless collection began. Freeman gave his recommendation to keep this surcharge at $.75 per line for a projected total of $315,000. FY 2017-18 will have all agencies paying at 100% of actuals. There were no comments from the audience on the proposed budgets for E-911.
Chairman Becker asked County Clerk Julie Freese to give an overview of the budget process to date. Budget work began in February with County retreats for Elected Officials and Department Heads as the County would be looking at another year of bare bones budgets and perhaps a worse year than the previous fiscal year. All budgets were due to the County Clerk by April and, at that time, the Commissioners asked all Departments to not spend more than absolutely necessary and also self-impose a 10% cut if possible. Even with those efforts, budgets submitted had totals that put the County $2.15 million in the hole as compared to anticipated revenue projections. Revenue streams from the Investment Pool, Road Construction Fund, Capital Revolving Fund and Health Insurance Fund were again offered from the County Treasurer. The Commissioners did not want to use all this funding to balance the budget (since these are not a long term sustainable revenues) and looked at individual budgets one by one and cut an additional $1.1 million. County Clerk Julie Freese reviewed her e-mail to the Departments following last week’s budget session where the Commissioners made cuts starting from a deficit of $2.155 million down to $1 million. She stated that the Commissioners made some suggested changes to most all budgets, but they could take the bottom line and move the line items (except to increase wages or add additional personnel) as needed. She further advised that if cuts were made in an area that you absolutely could not live with, to request time on the Agenda to discuss further this date. She stated that Treasurer Harnsberger presented his concerns during the June 20th meeting and she further noted comments she had received from Departments and Social Services. Assessor Berg had sent a written request for the Board to reconsider the cuts to her fuel line item, as they now have parcels in rural areas that are at their six year statutory requirement to re-visit. The Library’s revised budget was reduced by the Commissioners and they subsequently balanced by removing all Library outposts in outlying areas. Presently, the Commissioners are considering using the following revenue streams to balance the budget: Capital Revolving Fund – $500,000; Health Insurance Fund – $300,000; Investment Pool – $304,321 and Road Construction Fund – $600,000. The advertised budget is based on an assessed valuation of $631,220,630; however, a slight change of $630,956,774 was affirmed by Assessor Berg. She stated the Commissioners worked very hard to maintain all employee positions and no layoffs were needed; however, one full time staff would be going to part-time, and said staff member subsequently resigned and took a position elsewhere. Last year the Commissioners had stated they would consider employees paying an additional 2% into their retirement account; however, the Board did not implement the increase to employees.
Public comment was held:
Sydney Moller, director of the Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Violence, asked the Board reconsider their decision not to provide any funding to the program for the upcoming fiscal year. She stated the program is 30 years old and further presented posters with statistics for the current fiscal year. Year after year increases continue to rise 20%. The Agency provided 745 shelter nights last year (average shelter stay 30 days). They strive to provide clients with a home, job, etc., in order to sustainable after leaving the shelter. They are increasing efforts in primary prevention by visiting schools, and have assisted 173 children. County funding helps the Agency receive other funding if they can show a local match. She stated the importance of helping this population as the economic downturn tends to increase the need for their Agency. She again requested some funding to help the program remain sustainable.
Shelly Mbonu, Volunteers of America Center of Hope Director, requested the Board reconsider their budget request of $75,000. The Board had approved funding of $60,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. Mbonu read a written statement expressing appreciation of the County’s partnership over the years and their awareness of the County’s budget challenges; however, in order to assist with the safety of the public by eliminating potential risks and to protect the vital service provided at the Center of Hope, she asked to keep the current requested amount intact. She outlined the program modifications and areas of enhancement during this last fiscal year. Close observation beds are funded by the City of Riverton and Fremont County. This year the Center of Hope served 375 unique individuals (46 individuals have sought some form of substance abuse treatment, 80 individuals have been referred to other local community partners to assist with their recovery). If the County continues with the 20% reduction, Volunteers of America will have to reduce its Close Observation Beds by at least one, which will have a direct impact on the Sheriff’s Department budget. In closing, Mbonu stated the reduction would be a disadvantage to the County and clients served. It is her hope that the County reconsider the budget cut as the Center is providing a critical and valued service.
Noel Cooper, Injury Prevention Resources, stated the County funded the program $15,000 the previous year but had not provided any funding in the proposed budget for the new fiscal year. There are three main areas of service priorities – DUI Supervised Probation, DUI Monitoring and Safe Communities; with the main focus being the DUI Supervised Probation Program. Due to a large amount of DUI probation clients living in poverty, collecting client service fees is a constant challenge and the program continued to adapt to fit the needs of the program. They utilize other funding sources (Community Service Block Grants) to pay the salary for a second full-time probation agent. A Traffic Crash Statistics Comparison was provided for review. He also provided a SCRAMx House Arrest Cost Comparison for Fremont County, and stated the technology is currently being used for Court Assisted Supervised Treatment clients, at a cost of $150 month for the unit.
There being no further comments from the audience, Chairman Becker expressed appreciation from the Commissioners for the cooperation from the Elected Officials and Department Heads to look at cuts they could make to their departments to help balance the budget for FY 2017-2018. However, it is not a rosy picture as the County will still require an additional $1 million in deficit spending to balance the budget. The Commissioners goals were to keep all employees, keep as many programs intact as possible, not raise health insurance premiums and not increase employee retirement contributions. He praised the County employees who continue to keep things running smoothly, and noted they had not received any raises for the past three years. County Clerk Julie Freese stated there are a number of Departments who have elected to not fill positions and are working short staffed. Attrition totaled eight full-time positions.
Sydney Moller stated there are amazing partnerships in this community, and the Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Violence works cooperatively with both the Volunteers of America Center of Hope and Injury Prevention Resources. They programs have streamlined services and there are no overlaps of duplication of services.
Commissioner Thomas informed the audience that the cuts being seen now within the County are nothing new to the district he represents, the Wind River Indian Reservation. These include cuts to programs, road maintenance, etc. This area has also seen reduction in work days from five to four and RIF’s. What is happening now to the rest of the County is equalizing what the Reservation has been dealing with for years.
Commissioner McCarty stated that even though the County is experiencing tough times, the employees of the County need to be commended for their efforts. The County is having to do more with less and many tough decisions have to be made.
There being no further business, the Public Hearing closed at 6:25 p.m.
/s/ TRAVIS BECKER, CHAIRMAN
FREMONT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
/s/ JULIE A. FREESE, COUNTY CLERK AND CLERK OF THE BOARD