By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com
(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton City Council Tuesday night voted to phase out its Sewer Lateral Protection Plan (SLPP) because the program was going deeper into debt and did not generate enough revenue to be a viable program. The council also acted at the same time to replace the program with one offered by the National League of Cities called a Service Line Warranty Program.
While acknowledging that the SLPP had been popular with city residents, with 1,223 homes currently served, City Administrator Steven Weaver noted that the city was accepting more liability than it should and that the program for last four years had gone into the red without the possibility of it ever breaking even again. The program was first adopted in 2007 and allowed the city to collect funds from residents to pay for sewer line lateral replacements and clean up inside a residence from a backed up sewer line.
The new program provides up to $4,000 per occurrence, but does not provide any clean-up inside a residence because homeowners insurance would cover that, Weaver said. He also noted the program also covers basic restoration for landscaping. The individual fee for the program would increase per residence from the present $3.36 per month to an average of about $6 per month.
Noting that the city had lost $84,361 since the inception of the SLPP, and that the city was already in the red for over $30,000 this year, the council unanimously voted to abandon the current program and adopt the alternate one. The new Service Line Warranty Program will be promoted in advance so homeowners understand the new costs and liabilities before it is implemented in 2013.
One Cent Tax Update
In one other action, the council fulfilled a promise it had made when promoting the For Our Roads one cent optional sales tax proposal that received voter approval in the November general election. Approved was a resolution adopting a One Percent Committee of city residents to give advice and counsel to prioritize projects to be funded by the tax revenues, plus financial guidance to show where the funds are being used.
City Councilor Richard Gard said was concerned about establishing another committee, “because if we do a poor job of this, it will go away in four years.” Gard said he thought the first four years of the project should be managed by the city staff to utilize their professional expertise.
Mayor Ron Warpness, however, said the issue was promoted that citizens would have input in the decision making process. “The citizens voted and passed it and they are expecting to have a seat at this table and I don’t want to upset that at this point,” he said.
Public works director Bill Urbigkit said because the funds would not be available until next July, the citizens committee could establish criteria for what kind of “fast and easy” projects could be done with only half of a construction season, while city staff could work on more extensive projects that could begin the following spring. All of the projects would be run through the citizens committee.
Gard said he did not disagree with that and that he expressed his opinion that “I don’t want it go get mired down and nothing gets fixed.”