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Local officials attend WAM conference

SHERIDAN — Mayors, council members and staff from Wyoming’s 99 incorporated towns and cities gathered last week in Riverton for the annual Wyoming Association of Municipalities convention. Attending from Sheridan County were Dayton Mayor Bob Wood and Councilman Bob Alley, and Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey, City Clerk Scott Badley and Treasurer Jennifer Reed.

The annual WAM convention outlines a legislative agenda that WAM staff will promote at the next legislative session.

WAM also seeks to build effective municipal leadership through a variety of educational services and programs — both at the convention and throughout the year with webinars and seminars on key issues within local government Kinskey said.

One of the biggest items to come out of this year’s convention was the announcement by WAM Executive Director George Parks that he would be retiring his position within the year, according to Kinskey. Parks has served as director for 17 years.

“There was quite a bit of discussion about how we go about replacing him in the most productive fashion. I think that it will be very systematic and methodical because there’s a danger in any decision with a group that large that you’ll design a horse by committee and end up with a camel,” Kinskey said.

Kinskey said he thinks the primary focus of the WAM director should be to help local cities and towns engage their legislators in a one-on-one dialogue to help craft WAM’s legislative strategy in the most effective manner possible.

The WAM Executive Board adopted 12 resolutions to promote at the 2014 legislative session.

Wood served on the resolution committee, which makes recommendations to the executive board on which resolutions it believes should be pursued. The executive board made the final decision on the legislative agenda at its business meeting Saturday.

According to Wood, high priority issues included: securing maximum supplemental funding for 2015-2016 with as much certainty for future years as possible so municipalities know how to plan for the future; regulating unemployment benefits to prevent misuse; giving cities greater jurisdiction over what happens just outside city limits; and securing state funding to begin a transfer program to a system of five regional landfills.

Additional resolutions dealt with alternative methods of publishing public information (such as online rather than in the local newspaper), increasing the tax on malt beverages to address alcohol abuse statewide and allowing municipal voters to impose an optional sales and use tax that would be limited to one city or town, among others.
Wood felt the changes to the landfill system could have the greatest impact on towns like Dayton. Dayton trucks its solid waste into Sheridan — along with its recycling and yard waste — and spends $102 per ton to cross the scales at the landfill. This amounts to approximately $4,000 per year for Dayton to take care of its waste, which could be alleviated with state assistance.

Wood was against the resolution to allow cities to pass their own one-cent capital facilities tax, rather than a county-wide tax, because Dayton residents spend much of their money in Sheridan and would not get the benefit of the tax.

“Riverton put on a good WAM session,” Wood said. “I think it was beneficial to everybody, and I think we’re on the right track with WAM.”
New this year was a WAM session for clerks and treasurers, offered as part of WAM’s institute to produce certified clerks and treasurers. Badley, who is working to become a certified municipal clerk, said the program has been beneficial.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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