Lost Springs vote kills rec center proposals

By Sandra Mudd (sandra@douglas-budget.com)
Lost Springs Town Council put the final nail in any chance the recreation center proposals will be on the general election ballot come November. The council voted 2-2 on the resolution which would have place the measure before voters.   
The Douglas City Council had previously voted against it 3-2, which meant that all three other municipalities and the county commissioners had to support it to get it on the ballot. With Lost Springs’ vote ending in a tie, the ballot initiative died.
Both Glenrock and Rolling Hills councils voted unanimously for the resolution, as did the county, but in the end that didn’t matter.
“With both Lost Springs and Douglas voting it down, the commissioners cannot go forward, it essentially stops the process,” County Commissioner Jim Willox said. “There is support out there for the rec center,” but some have pointed to an online, voluntary survey as proof the vote would fail. Willox pointed out the online poll is not scientific, so using it to gauge support or opposition is questionable.
“And there are still a lot of outstanding questions,” Willox admitted. Those questions evolved from criticism over the original location west of I-25 into concerns about the economy.
Lost Springs Mayor Leda Price noted the economy was  a key point in that council’s decision, including her own ‘no’ vote. 
“With all these people unemployed, all these cut backs, times are not good,” Price said.  “I just don’t feel the timing is good.
“Everything has had cutbacks. I am not against progress but not this, not now,” she said. “I don’t see how a rec center will benefit those who are already struggling . . . Things may get better down the line, but now is not the time to be having another tax burden.”
Price, who also works part-time at the Douglas Senior Center, said she has not heard anything positive about it at the center. If things get better down the line, “then maybe” she will vote “yes.”  
“It’s very disappointing,” Recreation Center Director Monty Gilbreath said of the Lost Springs vote.
Unlike that vote, though, the Douglas City Council decision was two-fold because the council was asked to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would have outlined the operations and which entity – city, county and Douglas School District – would pay for what.
The Douglas City Council voted down the MOU as well as the resolution to put it on the ballot.
“The MOU is just a working document” in which the three entities involved (school, city and county) had to agree on the funding model, as well as the structure of it, long term,” he explained. “Are things going to need to be tweaked? Absolutely.”
Gilbreath, who is running for a city council seat, also realizes the resolution was voted down because there were concerns with construction costs and interest increases that would extend the length of the debt.
“What the community gets in return is a brand new facility they can use” that equates to 
“providing quality community recreation,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate we were not able to vote on it.
“We are not currently meeting the needs of community recreation. Other places provide this to their community from the very young, to the very old,” he said.“We can’t do that right now.”
Gilbreath’s concern is that if the county waits until the 2018 general election to put this back on the ballot, other taxes will already be on the ballot – the fifth cent sales tax and the three percent lodging tax.
“If now is not a good time, then when? I think it’s going to come down to the community saying, ‘We want a rec center,’” he said.   
County Commission Chairman Rick Grant said there will be several opportunities to bring the resolution back to the ballot, either in May or August of 2017 during a special election or further down the road during the general election in 2018. In the meantime, this will “give everybody a chance to sit down and look at the plan (more closely) to possibly come up with a more plausible one.”
 He agrees with Gilbreath’s concern about the fifth cent sales tax. This would run the risk “of losing one or not getting either,” he said. 
On the up-side, if oil and gas drilling returns in 2017, the county could see a rebound in the economy.
“This plays a big part in what we will do,” Grant said.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Subscriber Login