Just over one dozen county residents attended a Town Hall meeting Saturday at the Riverton Branch Library featuring two state lawmakers and three county commissioners. In the audience were Hudson Mayor Mike Anderson, Riverton City Council member Karla Borders, and from Central Wyoming College were Vice President for Student Affairs Cory Daly and Subdistrict #1 Trustee Ernie Over.
The meeting was called by HD#34 State Representative Tim Salazar of Dubois who pledged to address the problems of human trafficking and child sexual abuse in the next session of the legislature. He also pledged to work “across the aisle” on legislation important to Wyoming.
State Senator Eli Bebout of Riverton, SD#26, told the dozen or so attendees that he didn’t think another boom was coming to Wyoming and that the legislature needed to act now to diversity the state’s economy and find new revenue sources. Bebout is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Past President of the Senate. He pledged to work on behalf of the state’s cities, towns and counties and support the state’s community colleges and air service program. He said he would promote “responsible spending.”
Bebout said air service was critical to the state and he said any community now served with commercial air service would “be in a real hurt if we lose it. We either subsidize it or we won’t have it,” he said.
“We’ll take a hard look at the K-12 School budget, but I don’t see any progress being made there,” Bebout added.” This coming legislature, I think, there won’t be any progress made on revenue issues, they’ll just kick the can down the road, spend down reserves, call it a win and move on,” he said.
Salazar said he would also support the state’s community colleges which the ENDOW initiative has charged with boosting the state’s trained workforce. He also agreed with Bebout on the chances for improving the state’s revenue picture. “There are enough members in the legislature to block any revenue enhancements,” he said.
Bebout also said that diversification from the state’s reliance on mineral income “will take a lot of time.”
Fremont County Commission Chairman Travis Becker of Riverton said the county has privatized some county functions, but that the county budget was still pretty tight. Commissioner Jennifer McCarty told those in attendance that she “is only a phone call away for anyone having an issue or needing a question answered.” Commissioner Larry Allen of Lysite, said he was probably the least accessible member since he lived in the Northeast portion of the county, but he reminded the attendees that the commission meetings always have a public comment period at the beginning of each meeting to hear from constituents. He said he is generally available by phone.
Hudson Mayor Mike Anderson commended the lawmakers for making themselves available for the town hall. Salazar said he plans four more of these town hall meetings in his district, at Jeffrey City, Pavillion and Shoshoni in the coming months.