Even though the Albany County Commission faced financial challenges in 2017, the commissioners tried to make the best of the situation.
Through grant funding, reorganization of offices and other cost saving measures, the commission was still able to serve the interests of Albany County tax payers.
Shrinking the budget
Going into the 2018 fiscal year, which started July 2017, the Albany County Commission had to find ways to reduce the county budget in response to Wyoming’s financial crisis. Because of budget reductions, 14 county employees were laid off or offered incentives to leave and a hiring and salary freeze was put into effect. Employees were laid off from multiple offices, including the Albany County Treasurer’s Office, the clerk’s office and the county’s IT support division.
As a cost-saving measure for the county, offices such as IT that lost a large amount of people after the hiring freeze were offered to outside companies as temporary contracts to fill those roles for the county to avoid costs of paying new employees and providing benefits.
A whole lot of land
In September, the Albany County Commission approved the purchase more than 5,500 acres of land between Laramie’s eastern border and Medicine Bow National Forest. The County Commission has one year to raise $14 million for the purchase and is seeking funding options.
If the county is able to raise the money, then the purchase could provide miles of recreational activities for Laramie residents and preventing further development over the Casper Aquifer.
Dissolving the board
Representatives of the Laramie Plains Civic Center met with the commission about removing the civic center’s joint powers board and allowing the Laramie Plains Civic Center Foundation to manage the building’s operations.
Transferring the management of the civic center to the nonprofit foundation could make finding funding options for the center easier.
The Albany County Commission approved dissolving the joint powers board in October to start the process of having the foundation take control.
Breezing through negotiations
After hours of negotiating the division of funds, the Albany County Commission and other agencies received millions of dollars to prepare for an expected increase of people coming to work on a wind turbine facility about 10 mile north of Rock River.
After meeting with several agencies on multiple occasions, an agreement was made to provide funding to alleviate an increased worker population and the effect that population might have on roads and emergency services. Rock River, Laramie and Albany County received about 68 percent off about $12.4 million from the Department of Environmental Quality’s Industrial Sighting council.
Protecting the aquifer
Throughout the year, potential septic systems contaminating the Casper Aquifer was a problem the county commissioners often said needed to be researched. At the last commission meeting of the year, a company was approved to perform an analysis to look into it.
The findings of the study could affect the degree the county protects the aquifer and dwelling density over it.