No key votes. But there is a lot going on in the next week or so across Sheridan’s Governmental bodies.
Even during the holiday season, decisions are being made on Our behalf that can do either good for Us, or harm Us, so on to this week’s local murmurings.
Wyoming’s Top Five (Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, and Superintendent of Public Instruction)
Our Governor will soon be making an appointment to the Wyoming Supreme Court
Do you know anything about the proposed Wyoming Supreme Court Justice candidates? We are hearing plenty from folks like you and many have raised some red flags for Wyoming voters.
During the 2024 budget session, Our Legislators must:
Address the growing issue of state property tax increases as they are hurting Wyoming’s citizens pocketbooks, so much so that many cannot afford to stay in their lifelong homes. Being evicted from your home because the market value of your home increases your taxes is a heinous situation, and an example of why untaxed capital gains are extremely detrimental to society.
Need to address the endless growth in spending to ensure long-term solvency.
Sheridan County Airport - Several federal government contracts were approved by County Commissioners (on a 4-1 vote) that will require adherence to today’s woke ideology (pronouns, gender identity, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), etc.).
As of this moment, 4 of 5 of our commissioners seem to have been tempted by the thousands of federal bucks to build an extended parking ramp that we could have easily paid for ourselves (we are not short of funding with property taxes bringing in so much revenue); Citizens should be deciding if money with such strings attached is right for Sheridan County and we will have the opportunity to make that decision come 2024 elections. Why should we give up our autonomy? As Thomas Jefferson famously said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have."
Sheridan County Attainable Housing Council (a joint effort between the County and City of Sheridan for Attainable Housing, that’s different from Affordable Housing as it’s housing for a workforce, like local government workers and teachers, as has been constantly related to any regular meeting attendee)
Each of us should seriously take a look at what is up with this Housing Council. Committed nearly $400,000.00 of the $3 Million taxpayer dollars provided between the County and City, to manage a housing land trust program with our local Habitat for Humanity (HFH). HFH even hired a dedicated land trust manager earlier this year for $77,000 dollars (she recently quit and went to work for one of the financial institutions likely to bankroll whatever project is chosen in the end), buy equipment to manage the program, hire two consultants (one to recommend a manager and one to tell the group how to do what they did in Bozeman for their housing land trust), and cover the costs for a liability insurance policy and legal counsel to make it happen. Thus far, no money has actually been spent on building attainable housing.
So far, they’ve taken 11 months to come up with their first Request For Proposal (RFP) with only one of the members, Mr. Beavers, who seems to be the only one to have a solid grasp of what they were tasked to do, noting, as they were voting to initially approve the RFP, that they had spent that nearly 400k without even having a mission statement, much less being able to discern any specific project from the RFP they were to vote on. Kudos to Mr. Beavers! It was noted that the RFP that was approved may, or may not, result in any housing actually being built in the next two years before the funds potentially go stale and have to be returned….to the Feds!
That said, in the meeting the Council voted on the final version and contents of the RFP, representatives of Story House Village presented yet another revised proposal, and incredulously, the council changed the RFP to rather match what Story House Village was pushing. How blatantly obvious it was that certain members had already chosen their project, even before any had been submitted for the RFP process. It seems possible this is a conflict of interest and setting themselves up for legal action! Good thing they paid for the insurance.
And that’s not all, as the entire process of developing the RFP was in progress, while “rubrics” were being developed regarding decision matrices, several members of the board resigned. Why? Conflicts of interest, of course. That’s what happens when almost all of the members of the council are realtors, bank workers, contractors, or engineers whose own companies will most certainly be involved in any of the projects presented. In fact, there is at least one position open right now on the City’s website.
Maybe you can become a member of this council and help them find their way. Maybe you could convince the County and City officials that having the government involved in the decision-making process is a waste of funding and time. And, if there is money to give away that must be given away, simply grant it to the organization that will provide the desired housing rather than waste taxpayer dollars on governmental administrative bull... er, stuff.
Northeast Transmission Extension Pipeline
The pursuit of a Northeast Transmission Extension pipeline is again raising eyebrows after the project was rejected by the state water board earlier in December. Why is the Mayor now requesting a letter from the County and all of our local legislators in support of building a two-mile long water pipeline. A pipeline that will not directly serve any customers over at least the next several years. A pipeline across property the County is currently responsible for administering and property that is not zoned residential today.
Recently we learned that paperwork was submitted to the state water board noting that the pipeline will allow Story House Village (SHV) to be built. However, that is not the case as agreements appear to have already been made to hook up the 180 or so homes to be built in SHV and without that pipeline being connected to SHV at all. Could that have been a stretch of the truth of the matter?
Why, is the City of Sheridan working so hard to put in new utilities, paid for at taxpayer expense (utilities are usually paid for by developers and contractor who make money off home sales) to add another 20,000 people and 8,400 new water taps to grow Sheridan in the next decade? There are already enough lots designated within the city limits to grow Sheridan by 10-15,000 new residents, why add utilities for 20,000 more today? If you doubt the veracity of the facts noted in this paragraph just take a drive up 5th street around Mydland or out Main Street toward the new soccer fields and you’ll see it for yourself. Home construction is going on everywhere in Sheridan and there are likely a hundred or more completed or nearly completed homes sitting empty right now. There is no shortage of homes in Sheridan, just a plethora of realtors and developers competing for local market supremacy.
And didn’t we recently hear our Utilities department leadership note that the City of Sheridan and Sheridan County SAWS only have enough water to grow at the historical rate of growth? That’s 2,700ish new citizens per decade or about 120 houses in the city annually, for 35 more years without finding new water sources?
Unless of course the City gains the County’s water rights by dissolving the SAWS Joint Powers Board (that’s 2,000 more taps) or brings a 40-mile pipeline up from Lake DeSmet. The Lake DeSMet project is a prime example of a desire looking for a need. Someone desires that pipeline contract, so they are creating a need for more water sooner rather than later.
For the record, the last 40-mile water pipeline from a reservoir brought up from the south that we know of cost a mere $1.2 Billion dollars a decade ago and ran from Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs. Based on our own Mayor’s estimates on project cost increases over just the past three years we can expect that project to top $2.5 Billion dollars today (Remember the joint agreement to replace the airport water main the City pulled out of after garnering $2.4 Million from the state and giving it back because costs grew from under $4 Million to over $13.5 Million in just three years?)! Can you imagine your water bill if we are asked to pay just 50% of low-ball $2.5 Billion even if the other half could be federal and state grants?
Bottom line, City leaders have acknowledged the City has nearly $100 Million in repairs that need to be done inside the current city limits due to age and neglect. Shouldn’t the City, first, ask the Citizenry, if they want to add yet another water pipe to nowhere to our bills?
Sheridan County Republican Party Notes
Sheridan County Republican Party leaders will be meeting with the County Clerk and Elections Supervisor in the coming weeks. If you have any questions you’d like to have answered as they provide updates to any changes we can expect for the 2024 election cycle, please send them to email@example.com. We’ll post the answers we get and work to ensure all citizen concerns are addressed. Both County representatives will be given the opportunity to provide information for us to publish as well as comments, in their own words, after the meeting.
Tyrant Watch -- Is that a thing now?
Word on the street both here in Sheridan and across the state is that citizens may need to start a tyrant watch group. That’d be a new one for us to take on, but only if we continue to get the public’s input on the topic. Recent examples posed included articles from Unita County, Laramie County, as well as items noted here in Sheridan County from local meetings where some shady behavior has been witnessed in just the past few weeks. Expect a new post with details coming soon.
We will continue to inform to the best of our abilities. We ask for our fellow citizens to voice their support for the issue we bring forward as well as for issues you bring to our attention. Scarcity of resource force Us All to prioritize our efforts, so please assist us by pointing us in the directions you think are important.
Bryan E. Miller