VOA, Extension offices, Riverton Regional Airport, and senior centers prepare for FY 20-21 budget cuts

Big or small, once the County Commission adopts the fiscal year 20-21 budget, the Fremont County community will have to make budgetary adjustments.

Programs such as the Center of Hope, Riverton Regional Airport, Fremont County Extension offices, senior centers, and many others are making adjustments to sustain current programming.

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Volunteers of America, Center of Hope, won’t receive any of the $50,000 requested. Because of this loss, Chief Operating Officer Heath Steel says they will have to discontinue close observation services at the Center of Hope.

“What that has allowed is for individuals to walk up to the Center of Hope and receive services,” Steel said. “And/or allowed diversion by law enforcement to use the center instead of having to go to detention with an individual who was intoxicated.”

The VOA does receive funding from the City of Riverton and is scheduled to receive $30,000, according to City Administrator Tony Tolstedt.

Attending Tuesday’s Commissioner meeting, members from the Fremont County Extension came to discuss the outcome of the Lander/Riverton offices.

The Commission approved the plan to move the Lander Extension office into the same office as the Transportation Department in the Fremont County Courthouse. The Riverton Extension office will move into a space in Heritage Hall at the Fremont County Fairgrounds. Once the move is completed, the plan is to sell those empty office spaces.

Fremont County Museums have a cut close to 20% as the museums are likely only to receive $459, 223. Because of this cut, Fremont County Central Director Scott Goetz says they’ll have to lay off roughly 50% of their part-time staff, but the museum hours will remain the same.

“We are so reliant on our self-generated revenue,” Goetz said. “Better than 20% of our self-generated revenue comes from admittance fees, and 17% comes from gift sales. So if we’re not open, we can’t generate the revenue needed to function.”

The senior centers are working proactively to avoid loss now. The Lander, Riverton, and Shoshoni Senior Centers are planned not to receive any funding from the County, just as the VOA. Lander and Riverton would lose a total of $15,000, and Shoshoni is at a loss for their $6,800 budget.

The senior centers do receive grants from the state and the federal government but are also looking towards fundraising to help repair the loss.

The budget cuts will make it difficult to afford food and transportation resources for the senior centers. Lander Executive Director Jane Nolde states that they are taking measures to conserve their budget and limit costs now.

“We are not shutting down,” Nolde said. “The people in this community are very giving.”

Nolde intends to keep operations but will have to make more budget-friendly purchases on food. Both the museums and senior center will depend on public donations and volunteers to help keep the program running smoothly.

Riverton Regional Airport requested $200,000 to help secure commercial air service for the County.

“The contract we have with United Express/Skywest Airlines requires a guarantee,” Kyle Butterfield, Public Works Director said. “It’s very common in the air service industry, especially in rural areas such as this.”

The State of Wyoming meets 60% of the Commercial Air Service guarantee. While local groups, such as the County, meet the other 40%. Without the 40%, Riverton Regional airport may have change flight operations, such as the two daily round trips to Denver International.

“This means that our community will have to readjust to a service level from Skywest Airlines or United Express based on what money this community can generate for this guarantee,” Butterfield said.

These funds would help maintain the two roundtrip commercial flights from Fremont County to Denver International Airport. Riverton Regional Airport is working with other economic development groups to secure the remaining budget.

Although the budget isn’t finalized yet, other groups affected by these cuts are the Fremont County Libraries and Recreation Board. Child Development Services and Eagles Hope Tranisions will go another year without funding as they didn’t receive any from the County during the current fiscal year. You can read our previous post about the budget cuts by clicking here.

Budget updates could still be made in the next few days to these county programs. However, with the economic setback of COVID-19, plans are not set to change. It is important to note that the Fremont County Commissioners have statutory requirements to fund, and the county budget must be balanced.

The public hearing for this proposed budget is scheduled for Monday, June 29th, at 5:30 pm in the Commissioners’ Chambers at the Fremont County Courthouse. Following this public hearing, the budget is planned to be adopted on Tuesday, June 30th, during the Commissioners’ regular meeting.

Meeting minutes can be found on the Fremont County Government website by clicking here.

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