Commissioners talk HB 60 compliance

LUSK - Extensive discussion was held during Tuesday’s commissioner meeting regarding county compliance with HB0060. This bill requires specific training from the state auditors office for all elected board members and any elected officials and staff who are responsible for public funds, the handle of public money or budgets involving public funds. The training is being offered both in person in Cheyenne and virtually on Wednesday August 23.

The commissioners and elected officials all voiced concern regarding how the state plans to allow individuals and entities to register for the event, how attendance will be tracked and who will retain those records. Niobrara treasurer Keri Thompson discussed having all treasurer staff attend however this is not feasible since the office would have to be closed an entire day.

The bill gives some guidance as to the consequences of not obtaining training by required deadlines however no information has been forthcoming so far about the actual accessibility of the training. Those required to attend are not sure if they can use one site to log in and simply keep attendance records, if individual board members could individually register and attend from home and how the state will require them to prove attendance.The training will also be offered at this fall’s WACO event.

Both Thompson and the commissioners agreed it would be best to “be ahead of the curve” and try to get as many people in the county government and special districts trained at the August 23 training as possible. Commissioner Griffith will be trying to get in touch with someone at the state level to get answers to these and several other questions.

Along with HB 0060 compliance, there was also discussion regarding the BLM Resource Management Plan and the commissioners’ continuing concerns about those potential changes and how they could impact Niobrara county. Wade encouraged all available to come to the August 7 meeting and even if nothing is said simply showing in numbers that there is a genuine concern about this document and how it could change the economics and physical landscape of Niobrara county. Wade also expressed his concern that in spite of what Wyoming-based BLM employees say, the influence on the final plan and general policies that will impact it coming from the current administration won’t be advantageous for Niobrara county or the rest of Wyoming.

The extreme weather and specifically high volumes of precipitation continue to challenge road and bridge. Director Freddie Thomas reported that while the crews continued to work on washouts there are several spots that are not even dry enough to fix and he doesn’t anticipate being able to do anything with those spots until it dries out better. There are a lot of problems with weeds and the county can’t seem to be able to get ahead of them.

Thompson continues to field complaints regarding the speed of semi trucks and work trucks running up and down county roads and the damage some are sustaining from high volumes of heavy-weight traffic. They will continue to monitor this and work with the Sheriff’s department. Kelly Dean reported that while there have been several stops there have not been any citations with those stops.

The public hearing for adjustments to the FY 2023 budget was held. There were no comments, questions or objections and those adjustments were approved.

During the update from Public health it was reported that the individual in the emergency response public health position was resigning. This position is paid for by a grant and Bozanzen wanted to confirm that she could advertise for a candidate. Bozanzen also reported that the state had requested to increase the hours of Michelle Kremeres, the Niobrara public health nurse to 32 in order to take on more MESCH clients. This would be 100% paid for by the state. This was also approved.

Undersheriff Kelly Dean reported that the telecommunication center was fully staffed at this time.

Commissioner Griffith reviewed the timeline for the congressional natural resources tour. The group of staffers plan to visit the museum and Dockery ranch. The reception is anticipated, based on RSVPs, to be around 70 people including the speakers for the evening.

James Santistevan, county Emergency Response Coordinator told the commissioners that he continues to work on the gathering data about damages from the last few storms. He is also working on the hazard mitigation project and getting dates set up for in-house meetings.

Teri Stephens walked the commissioners through the history on an existing but unused pipeline in Niobrara county and how it has been appraised in the past. Stephens was considering bring in TY Pickett for pipeline appraisals on a rotating two year schedule to improve the occury of those numbers.