SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council tabled a vote on entering into an air service agreement with Sheridan County Monday.
Sheridan city attorney Brendon Kerns told council the city and county attempted to negotiate the agreement on an accelerated timeline to accommodate the other entities involved with the changing local air service, but could not settle the terms of the deal in time. Council members indicated they were not comfortable approving the agreement until it has been fully fleshed out.
Earlier this month, Sheridan County Commission approved a memorandum of understanding with the Wyoming Department of Transportation indicating the county’s participation in WYDOT’s Commercial Air Service Improvement Plan. The plan aims to improve commercial air service in Wyoming’s “critical air service communities” by bundling those communities into a contract between WYDOT and SkyWest Airlines.
Participating in the plan would require Sheridan County to discontinue its relationship with Key Lime Air — which currently operates out of the Sheridan County Airport as Denver Air Connection — when its contract with the service expires at the end of this year.
Sheridan County’s MOU with WYDOT was initially contingent on the city of Sheridan agreeing to split the cost of partnering with SkyWest; the city and county previously reached similar agreements to fund DAC. Meeting that stipulation would have required Sheridan and Sheridan County to finalize an agreement this week, however, and the two parties are still negotiating the details of that cost-sharing agreement, Kerns said.
WYDOT’s Aeronautics Commission is scheduled to meet Thursday to finalize WYDOT’s agreements with Sheridan County and the other participants in the Commercial Air Service Improvement Plan.
Sheridan County amended its original MOU with WYDOT Tuesday so the Aeronautics Commission can approve the agreement this week, even though the agreement between the county and the city of Sheridan is still pending.
Kerns said the two local entities have the broad outline of an MOU, but still need to cement the details.
“Based on the conversations that I’ve had with the county…there are really some issues that need to be fleshed out between the county and the city,” Kerns said. “And these aren’t adversarial, it’s more of a planning thing.”
According to Sheridan County’s MOU with WYDOT, the state agency would fund 60% of the local partnership with SkyWest and the county would pay the remaining 40%.
WYDOT and Sheridan County would then partner on the planning and operation of the local air service — working together to set flight schedules, ticket prices and revenue management strategies.
The framework of the deal between Sheridan and Sheridan County would obligate the city to pay half the cost the county will pay per its agreement with WYDOT, or 20% of the overall cost of partnering with SkyWest.
In exchange for providing that funding, though, Sheridan would expect to participate in the planning and operation of the local service alongside the county and WYDOT.
“We just need to somehow have it that we have input that is weighed and has merit in the discussion,” Councilor Patrick Henderson said.
Kerns said the negotiations with the county are largely centered on the city’s participation in those matters.
In tabling the motion, council expects to revisit the issue at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 3.
Council President Clint Beaver — who is the Sheridan County attorney responsible for negotiating the air-service agreement with the city — recused himself from council’s deliberations on the MOU with the county.
• During a city update, Sheridan City Administrator Mark Collins said WYDOT’s preliminary feedback on Sheridan’s Main Street lane reconfiguration test has been positive.
“I think the public has adjusted to those changes very, very well and in a very safe fashion,” Collins said.
Public survey results, so far, have been mixed, but favorable responses have outweighed negative responses — Collins said the city has received 190 survey positive survey responses, 144 unfavorable responses, and 26 neutral responses.
The test is scheduled to conclude Sept. 8. Collins said the increase in back-to-school traffic in the coming weeks would also be important in helping the city evaluate the long-term viability of the new configuration.
• Council unanimously approved a resolution to officially rename Sheridan’s North Park to Malcolm Wallop Park.
• Council approved the appointments of Henderson, Tod Windsor, P.J. Treide and Mandy Moody Phillips to the Sheridan County Travel and Tourism Joint Powers Board.