By David Martin

City criticized for project list


December 11, 2019

Members of the Sweetwater County commissioners voiced their displeasure with Green River representatives’ list of projects they’re seeking sixth penny tax funding for.

During a special commissioners’ meeting about the tax and various proposals made by local governmental agencies to use the tax, Mayor Pete Rust said the city came to the county with $44 million in projects because the city views all of the projects it identified as important uses of a potential sixth-penny tax.

“The Council’s position was and still is the sixth penny is the tool that we have available to us to do the kinds of improvements we want,” Rust said.

Rust said the city’s residents have generally been supportive of tax.

“We don’t need to apologize for coming in and asking for the needs we identified,” he said.

City Administrator Reed Clevenger said the projects the city identified focus mainly on infrastructure improvements.

There was one exception to the list that would focus on the quality of life for city residents: renovations to the city’s recreation center.

“We don’t have any other way to do that project,” Clevenger said.

The city approached the commissioners with a list of projects it could accomplish in four years, and a second list that could be done in six years. Most of the projects focus on road repair projects, as well as a water and sewer project. The projects are currently not scheduled because the city can’t afford to fund them at the moment. The four-year list amounts to $44 million. However, according to Sweetwater County Commissioner Wally Johnson, the commissioners can’t determine what Green River’s priorities are. He said the commissioners are looking at a taxation amount between $80-90 million, which would take roughly four years to pay off. Clevenger told Johnson telling him that the commissioners are looking to fund $80-90 million still doesn’t help him because the commissioners haven’t told entities how the amount would be split up.

“Are you doing if off of people based, are you doing it off of tax based, are you doing it off of what we done in the past,” Clevenger asked.

“If we knew your priorities, it would influence the amount of money we would allocate to you,” Johnson replied.

Johnson also asked if the city wanted to stand alone on the ballot with its projects. Clevenger said he would like to see everything listed as one ballot proposal.

“That would be a big, big mistake,” Johnson replied. “You want to get it flushed?”

Johnson said some of the projects need to be funded, though he doesn’t agree with all the projects listed. He said other governments looking for sixth-penny tax funding wouldn’t be on board being listed with the large amount Green River seeks.

“Every other entity that has come here today has prioritized their projects one, two, three, four, five,” Commissioner Jeffery Smith said.

“Everyone else has done it ... even the tiny towns,” Johnson added. “Don’t rely on us to do it, you won’t agree with what we say.”

Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld said Clevenger and Rust were involved in conference calls where she told municipal representatives $80-100 million in funding was what the commissioners were agreeable to.

“I’ve also asked ... that all of these be prioritized,” she said.

“We can do that,” Rust said.


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