City of Lander meets savings goal, starts building up new asset replacement fund

    The City of Lander has achieved its goal to save half of its total budget amount in an unrestricted reserve account.

    “The unrestricted balance in our reserve is $3.7 million,” city treasurer Charri Lara told the Lander City Council during a budget work session this week. “The normal (budget) is about $6 million, so we do have six months’ worth of reserves.”

    Now that the savings goal has been met, Lara said she would like to utilize any budget “overage” in the coming years for asset replacement projects.


    “That way we’ll be saving money for rodeo stuff or fences or roofs or anything that we have to do,” she said, noting that she has already transferred about $260,000 to the new asset replacement account.


    The task now is to determine “where you want to spend (the) money,” public works director Lance Hopkin said.

    He listed a variety of projects the funding could support, ranging from roof repairs to vehicle and equipment purchases – including police cars, fire engines, dump trucks and motor graders – and new employees.

    “Those are pretty hefty assets,” Councilmember Missy White said, guessing that the needs in Lander “far exceed” the amount available in the new account.


    The asset replacement fund can also be used to obtain matching grants for street repairs, Hopkin said, urging the council to be “cautious (about) where you prioritize things.”

    State funding

    Lander received about $510,000 in one-time supplemental funding from the state this year, and Lara said that money is currently sitting in the city’s reserve account.

    Councilmember Julia Stuble asked whether the supplemental funding should go into the new asset replacement account instead, but Lara said it would be “fine to keep it” in savings for now “so we can maximize (the) higher interest rate” in the reserve account.


    “We haven’t seen interest rates that high in quite some time,” Lara explained.

    She noted that the city also has about $990,000 left in its separate American Rescue Plan Act fund.

    Cost of living

    The budget Lara outlined this week includes an 8.7 percent increase in annual wages for city employees based on the cost-of-living index for Fremont County.


    The raise will cost the city about $510,000, Lara said.

    The budget also features a 17.5 percent increase in health insurance costs, which Lara called “substantial.”

    “That’s a big jump for insurance,” she said.

    She is planning to switch the city over to the state’s health insurance plan later this year, estimating that the move could save Lander about $51,000.

    For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.


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