Green River Star -

By David Martin

Lawsuit filed against county


A payment dispute between the Sweetwater County Commissioners and the Combined Communications Joint Powers Board has resulted in a lawsuit filed against the county.

The board issued a statement from its attorney George Lemich, claiming the county did not fully pay its fair share of the costs of operating the joint dispatch center in Green River. The joint powers board was initially formed to consolidate emergency dispatch service amongst Green River, Rock Springs and the county. The joint powers agreement was signed Dec. 15, 2009, which proposed the three governmental groups share the costs based on call load. Rock Springs agreed to pay 43 percent, Green River agreed to 32 percent and the county the remaining 25 percent.

The dispute emerged when the county declined to pay 25 percent of the costs claimed by the joint powers board. According to Sweetwater County Commission Chairman Reid West, the county commissioners decided to cut their costs by 10 percent for the current budget year due to reduced tax revenue and felt the joint powers board should have done the same when board members approached the commissioners for funding last year. West said the board has approximately $500,000 in reserves and planned $500,000 in capital expenditures to improve the system, something the commissioners felt could be postponed due to the local economic downturn. West also said the commissioners believe the joint powers board wants the county to approve any funding request they bring to the commissioners.

“We take exception to that,” West said.

Lemich and the board disagree, claiming the county’s refusal to fund the full amount requested of them has resulted in a funding shortage for the dispatch center.

“It is not fair to the city of Rock Springs and the city of Green River, who have honored their obligations under the Joint Powers Agreement and paid their respective shares of the funding necessary to operate the combined communications center,” Lemich stated in the board’s press release. “The Joint Powers Board’s only options are to require the city of Rock Springs and the city of Green River to pay an amount greater than their share or to go without. Neither is an acceptable option.”

Lemich said the board regrets taking the issue to court, saying the board believes legal action is the only way it can enforce the joint powers agreement. Lemich also said full participation by all three entities in the agreement is necessary to provide the joint powers board and emergency responders the tools needed to fulfill their duties.

The board’s suit seeks payment for the full 25 percent the county is obligated to pay under the joint powers agreement and gives the county 20 days to respond.


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