By Victoria Fregoso, Lead Reporter, County10.com
City Opposes Electric Rate Increase from Rocky Mountain Power
All Riverton City Council members were opposed to a rate increase by Rocky Mountain Power. RMP’s request which was issued this past December would range from a 8.81 percent increase for residential customers, to a 12.75 percent increase for general commercial customers. Resolution No. 1251 states “the City of Riverton currently faces severe economic challenges.” And while they do recognize RMP is the only electric provider in the city (High Plains Power provides rural electric service), they did mention residents are struggling financially and in return are using less electricity to decrease monthly bills.
A majority of the audience that filled the council chambers were present for this agenda item. A big concern was with housing that has electricity as the only source for heat. A representative with the Reach Foundation Subdivision was on hand and said they are looking at the possibility of introducing other heat sources into their homes. Their power bills can reach $500 in the winter, an increase of 8.81 percent would result in paying an additional $44.05 a month.
Council Member Eric Heiser recalled Rocky Mountain Power increasing their rates at the same time last year. He said the fact that RMP is requesting another raise for the second year in a row was “a little nauseating”.
Public Hearing and First Reading for Fuechsel Rezone Request Postponed for 2nd Time
Among the list of agenda items on Tuesday night’s Riverton City Council meeting was the public hearing and first reading for the Fuechsel Rezone Request, but for the second time, it has been postponed because the potential buyer and land developers were not present.
A group of Riverton residents were on hand that would be effected by the rezoning if it were approved. They voiced their concerns over actually holding the public hearing at the next meeting because of inconvenience it has caused in canceling other plans in order to attend these meetings.
If approved, the rezone would turn what is classified as “agriculture property” near the Spencer Subdivision along Federal Boulevard, into a “light industrial district”. The current owner of the property, Jeffery Fuechsel has a potential buyer that would like to develop this plot of land into a welding business.
Near by land owners that are against the rezoning say a welding business would be too loud. Another property owner suggested the business consider buying property near Honor Farm Road or near the Riverton Regional Airport, away from residential areas.
The mayor and council agreed that this agenda item would be addressed at the next regular meeting with or without land developers present.
City to Look at Options for Repairing Tennis Courts
Staff will begin looking at funding and finding possible partners for improving the five tennis courts owned and operated by the city. With three tennis courts in City Park and two at Sunset Park, the tennis team at Riverton High School uses these courts for practice. But the high school Athletic Director Keith Bauder said it is impossible to host tournaments in Riverton because of the condition of these courts. Through research, City Administrator Steven Weaver said the repairs could cost any where from $6,500 to $58,000 per court. With $6,500 being the cheapest option, the improvements would not last too long and the courts would most likely be back in the same condition within one year.
On behalf of the Fremont County Recreation Board, Lee Martinez was present to let the city know the board is willing to help and donate money to the project. Martinez requested more information on the total cost of the tennis court improvements so the board can determine how much money they can contribute.
Members of the city council and Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit suggested the city speaks to different organizations and businesses in the area that might be interested in helping out with funds.
Council Sets New Goals for 2012
The Riverton City Council has set five goals they plan to focus on over the next year which includes: defining a strategy to pass the 1% tax, fiscal responsibility, beautification and safety of the community, the city master plan and Job Corps. The first goal involves defining a strategy to pass the 1 percent optional sales tax that was recently approved by the Fremont County Commissioners. The tax increase would generate $7,000,000 a year and go towards streets, roads and bridges. The city would like to organize neighborhood captains to determine which streets should be the first priority to fix. A committee would also be formed to review the priorities and decide which streets should be taken care of within the first year. The council also hopes to encourage other cities and towns within Fremont County to form a similar system.
The goal for fiscal responsibility would educate the public and council on the budget process and other financial matters by designing an introduction page that makes it easier for everyone to see where the city’s revenue is coming from. The page would also highlight expenditures and compare them to previous years.
Beautification and safety of the community includes creating a graffiti abatement task force along with a park watch program. It also encourages more church and “R” Recreation activities to take place in City Park. City Administrator Steven Weaver wrote “as we enhance the park and make it look the best possible and we start to use it, then the reputation will change and more people will use it”.
The master plan goals encourages city employees to continue following their current master plan.
They also plan on supporting the Job Corps project and reaching out to Governor Matt Mead to make it happen.
All council members were in support of 2012′s new goals.
City Raises Water, Sewer, Sanitation and Building Permit Rates
The mayor and council made some adjustments to city services based on an increasing consumer price index. Water rates and tap fees were increased by 7.6 percent to assist in funding the Riverton Water Supply Project, a project in which the city has to contribute $2,000,000. But the increase will result in the collection of an estimated $160,000.
The sewer fund will see an increase of 3.2 percent. The reason behind this increase is due to the use of reserves from non-grant funded projects. Approximately $55,500 will generate from this increase.
The sanitation fund will increase by 2.6 percent if the cost of diesel stays below $4.00 a gallon. But if the price rises above $4.00, it will increase to 3.6 percent. This will generate anywhere between $53,000 to $74,000.
The final increase is for building permit fees, this will go up by 4.2 percent. This will bring an additional $3500 to the general fund.
These changes will go into effect during the current March to April billing period.
City Supports 1 Percent Sales Tax, Subdivision Ordinance Passes on Final Reading, The Ledge to Use City Communication Tower, City Renews Lease with Fremont County Racing Association
The City of Riverton, along with other municipalities throughout Fremont County are required to pass a resolution to place the proposed 1 percent sales tax on the general election ballot. This 1percent sales tax is the same tax being proposed by the Fremont County Commissioners. Mayor Ron Warpness called the tax “a great step forward” and is optimistic the community will vote in favor of the 1percent increase.
On a $250 per year lease, radio station Ledge 105.1 FM has been given permission by the mayor and council to use a portion of the city’s communication tower on Airport Hill for the next five years.
The award winning Fremont County Racing Association requested to extend their lease for another 10 years. Calling the association “a go getting group” Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit suggested the request for an extended lease be granted. Located along Paradise Valley Road, Eric Heiser mentioned he notices the improvements that are made to the track every time he flies out from the Riverton Regional Airport. All council members approved the 10 year lease.