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The Sweetwater County Commission decided how to divide the $80 million in sixth cent tax projects local communities want to put before voters. It includes $29 million for Rock Springs and $18.56 million for Green River. The county’s $25 million portion includes $7.8 million for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and $6.7 million for the Sweetwater Events Complex.

GREEN RIVER — Sweetwater County commissioners approved allocation amounts for a specific purpose tax ballot initiative Tuesday and also had a bonding discussion relative to a sixth cent proposal. 

On Jan. 21, the commission voted 3-2 to cap a sixth cent tax ballot initiative at $80 million. Commissioner Jeffrey Smith voted against the amount, along with Commission Chairman Randy “Doc” Wendling, who said he would have liked to see a little more.

At Tuesday's meeting, commissioners decided how to split the $80 million between county entities. Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld, the commission's liaison on the issue, brought forth a proposal using the percentage of each municipality's population in relation to that of the entire county with some additional funds for smaller communities. 

Commissioners revised the proposal after some discussion, reducing the amount for Wamsutter from $5 million to $2.75 million and increasing Green River's allocation from $16 million to $18.56 million. Allocation amounts approved include: Bairoil, $1.27 million; Granger, $1.9 million; Superior, $1.52 million; Wamsutter, $2.75 million; Green River, $18.56 million; Rock Springs, $29 million; and Sweetwater County, $25 million.

Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld made a motion to approve the allocated amounts. Commissioner Wally Johnson seconded the motion, and it passed. Commissioner Jeffrey Smith was not in attendance. Lloyd said he voted "aye on the no," noting that it passed anyway, but he was in support of Green River getting more more money.

Commission Chairman Randall “Doc” Wendling said he thinks that the proposal can be approved if marketed correctly, adding that the dollar amount to pay back is well within reason for county residents. 

Although the county's sixth cent allocations weren't originally going to be acted on at the meeting, the commission decided to go ahead and vote on the issue at Commissioner Johnson's encouragement Tuesday. 

Amounts in Johnson's original motion were $7.2 million for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, $6.7 million for the Sweetwater Events Complex, $3 million for Reliance's North Sweetwater Water and Sewer District and $7.5 million for the Jamestown-Rio Vista Water and Sewer District. That motion was later amended, changing the total for the hospital to $7.8 million in order to bring the total to $25 million.

Commissioner Roy Lloyd was the one vote against the allocation. He spoke in favor of splitting the $25 between the hospital and the Events Complex. Lloyd said he had some concerns about funding special districts. 

BONDING

Alan Matlosz, executive vice president of Stifel, came before the commission to discuss how his company could help Sweetwater County with a specific purpose tax ballot initiative. Matlosz said the company is providing a free resource, and bonding costs are subject to the success of the election.

Services available include determining how to put a specific purpose tax initiative on the ballot and marketing it. Matlosz said he has helped with more than 100 elections of a similar type in various states. 

Current bonding interest rates are what Matlosz referred to as "crazy low," saying the county could expect to pay about 1.5 percent. Costs would also include a fixed amount for a bonding attorney and a percentage fee of the amount to be borrowed. 

Johnson said the way that the proposal is put on the ballot is extremely important in selling the projects to the public, and that financing is of secondary importance. He is in favor of bonding the entire amount. 

Schoenfeld said that she has a phone call set up on Thursday with Matlosz, and then she will come back to the sixth penny group and let the members know what the next steps are moving forward. She plans to update the commission at the next meeting as well.

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