State Senator Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, made a presentation to the Riverton City Council Tuesday night on budget and other issues. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The highlight of Tuesday night’s city council meeting was a presentation on the status of the state’s budgeting process by St. Sen. Eli Bebout, the Co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee. Bebout spent about 40 minutes explaining how the budget process works, projected revenues and his key issues for upcoming sessions.

Councilors also conducted some regular business during the meeting, including the renewal of taxicab licenses. “I was surprised we had four taxicabs in town,” said Mayor Ron Warpness, after the council heard that each of them had paid all necessary fees and provided the appropriate paperwork. “It must be a pretty tough business out there,” Warpness said. Renewed were the licenses for Ace Taxi, BDS Taxi, Dale’s Gator Creek Taxi and Orlando’s Ride.

Perhaps the most significant action of the night was the council’s approval of Ordinance 13-006 and 13-007 on first reading which allows the Riverton Police Department to enforce state laws on drivers license and auto insurance requirements for motorists through the Riverton Municipal Court instead of the Ninth District Circuit Court. Revenues from those infractions would flow to the city, rather than the county, as is now the process. A third ordinance, #13-008, updates language in the Riverton City Code to coincide with state statutes.

Another major action was the award of a bid for the reconstruction of the deteriorating taxiway “C”  and the adjacent General Aviation apron at Riverton Regional Airport. A single bid for the work was rejected last month, the bid document was “retooled” and then rebid. This time four bidders responded and the council acted to award the bid to Maxwell Asphalt of Salt Lake City who submitted the low bid of $1,328,015. Bornhoft Construction of Riverton had the second lowest bid, at $1.6 million.

Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit said the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Project fund will pay $1,245,014 of the cost, Wyoming Aeronautics will contribute $49,800.56 and the City will pay $33,200.38.

Riverton Liquor Store owner Bob Woodward appeared at the meeting and asked if any of the councilmembers would like to reconsider their vote that granted Walmart a liquor license transfer. Two weeks ago, Councilmember Lars Baker made a motion to rescind the council’s initial rejection of the transfer, and the council then on a 5-1 vote approved the transfer. This time, however, none of the council members brought up the issue and the liquor license transfer was confirmed.

Bebout told the council that one of his accomplishments during the 2013 session was the passage of SF90, which pertained to acquired state lands owned by the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health, among others, but not trust lands which cannot be sold. Riverton’s growth along the north and east of Highway 26/789 has been blocked by land controlled by the Wyoming Honor Farm. “The thrust of the bill was to look at what the highest and best use of lands would be, and you know what I’m talking about, the land between Walmart and the Honor Farm. The state is getting $5,000 to run cattle there. Is that the highest and best use of that land?” he asked rhetorically. “We’re making some progress in those areas.”

The Riverton senator said he would continue to work to return money to cities towns and counties for needed infrastructure work and he said the legislature is looking at ways to permanently providing funding for such needs. And he said he is working on a proposal to set aside $10-million specifically for funding courthouses. “Your problem (with the Riverton circuit court facility) is similar to one in Rock Springs and Green River. Maybe we can come up with $2-3 million that Fremont County needs.” He said most of the members of the State Land and Investments Board (SLIB) agree to the need to address those issues, but the question is how to do it,” Bebout said. “That’s what I’m thinking to do to help that situation.”