The Saratoga Sun -

Wind tax resolution tabled

Police contract, gas monies, hugulkultur, transfer station bids discussed at Saratoga council meeting

 


Talk of increasing the wind energy excise tax in Cheyenne has prompted the Saratoga Town Council to consider adopting a resolution opposing any such increase. The text of the resolution, written by Rawlins City Attorney, Amy Bach, was read at a lightly-attended July 5 Saratoga Town Council meeting.

“We’re already the only state in the union that’s taxing wind energy and now they want to tax it more. Well, I guess my thoughts were that that’s probably a bad idea,” mayor Ed Glode said in support of the resolution. The resolution was addressed to members of the Wyoming Legislature’s Interim Joint Revenue Committee, which will meet September 22-23 to vote on the new tax.

The Chokecherry Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project (CCSMP) would bring up to 1000 turbines to Carbon County and result in significant tax revenues from the existing wind energy excise tax, property taxes and the sales and use tax, according to the resolution. Over the course of the initial project life these revenues would amount to almost $800 million dollars, Bach writes, but these future funds could be jeopardized if the viability of the project is threatened by an additional tax burden imposed by the state.

Councilwoman Judy Welton made a motion to pass the resolution, and councilwoman Sue Howe seconded that motion. Councilman Will Faust said he would like more time for consideration, however, and the item was tabled until the next council meeting, July 19. At the July 19 meeting, a representative from the CCSMP will be present to answer any questions council members have.

In items from the public, Saratoga resident Jason Campbell approached the council about how former Saratoga Police officer Bobby Chitwood’s departure from the force was being discussed. “I know personally that officer Chitwood was fired,” Campbell said. Previous statements from council members had left the circumstances in which Chitwood left uncertain, and Campbell wanted to clarify for the record that Chitwood had not been trying to take advantage of the town by leaving abruptly after finishing police academy.

Chitwood’s departure had been referenced at prior council meetings because the town was discussing making new officers sign a contract to hold them responsible for paying a portion of their police academy training if they leave the force within two years. This stipulation would not apply to an officer who had been relieved of duty, Faust noted.

A letter from the Wyoming Community Gas consortium informed the council that grants from the group for community improvement projects will be disbursed in May of 2017. In the past, the letter said, these monies were disbursed in the fall or winter, but moving forward they will be disbursed in May. The reason given was that funds were not available “because our total distribution continues to increase.”

In May 2017, the letter said, Saratoga will receive about $3,700–almost $1,000 more than Saratoga received from Community Gas last year. The town will have until September 15 to decide what to invest the funds in.

From the department of public works, Jon Winter reported that an airplane used for mosquito spraying skidded into a ramp sign while landing June 30. No one was hurt and the plane suffered only minor wing damage. The same plane piloted by a different person was involved in a similar mishap last year, Winter said, calling the incident “deja vu.”

Glee Johnson said that the community garden suffered little damage from a July 3 hailstorm, and that both hugulkultur pollinator beds had been planted. Bees, Johnson said, were beginning to arrive–a sign the hugulkultur beds are doing their job by attracting pollinators.

Council member Richard Raymer reported that five contractors had submitted bids for construction of a new transfer station at the landfill. “It sounds like we’re going to get construction underway maybe by the end of the month or the first part of August,” Raymer announced.

The next Saratoga Town Council meeting will be held 6 p.m. July 19 at Town Hall.

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