The Saratoga Sun -

Summer business

Grants and loans, campground facilities, mosquito abatement and seasonal workers discussed

 


With one eye warily on the “sensitivity of funding at the state level,” Saratoga Mayor Ed Glode said it would be unwise to allow a loan and grant package to go unused. The loan and grant, to make improvements on the Saratoga lagoon system, was under discussion at a June 8 town council meeting attended by about 20 residents.

“There’s a laundry list of things that we can do to improve our system with the overall goal obviously of being compliant and having a discharge that’s as clean as possible,” said director of public works Jon Winter. He listed new pumps, leaking seals and faulty valves as some of the upgrades that could be made with the $1,070,000 in funding that has been awarded to Saratoga.

According to Glode, 67 percent of that money is in the form of a low interest loan provided by the Office of State Land and Investments (OSLI). The remaining 33 percent of the $1,070,000 comes from a Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund grant that would not have to be paid back by the town. In a meeting with Beth Blackwell of the OSLI, Winter said that he and the mayor were told that the grant money could only be accessed after the loan money had been exhausted.

“If we want anything to do with that grant funding, we basically have to come up with something that spends that million dollars,” Glode summarized.

Winter added that during the last cycle of grant awarding, Wyoming municipalities had applied for $30 million worth of grants, but there were only $5 million in funds disposable. This six to one ratio of applications to capital means that if the town lets their loan/grant package go unused, there’s a good chance Saratoga will not have a similar opportunity in the future.

In other public works news, Winter said new line reactors had been placed in the well-fields that pump drinking water into Saratoga, and that a new RV dumping station payment kiosk had arrived, but was not yet installed.

With fiscal year 2016 coming to a close and the Platte Valley gearing up for tourist season, the remainder of the meeting was largely an exercise in municipal housekeeping. New hires, budgetary tweaks, summer recreation programs and special event permits took up much of the two-hour proceedings.

Seasonal workers, as well as several longer-term employees, were welcomed onto the municipal payroll at the meeting.

The council opted to hold off hiring Jerry Black as a new full-time officer for the police department. Black has been working part-time with the police for nine months, but has not yet been through the 14-week police academy to become a full-time officer.

Noting that the town must pay around $15,000 or $16,000 to train Black, and that in the last 18 months two officers who are no longer with the force were put through the training by the town, the council decided to take no action on Black’s hiring June 8. Councilman Will Faust suggested adding language to Black’s contract that would make him responsible for paying part of the training costs if Black leaves the department before a set period of time. “It’s more important to get it right than to get it done fast,” said Faust.

After some discussion, the water and sewer department was given approval to hire a fourth worker. Director of public works Jon Winter explained that a fourth worker will allow the water and sewer group to split into two teams of two, as most work in that department requires two people. Winter said this way, one pair can concentrate on doing maintenance and repair work, while the second can perform routine inspections.

Weed and pest was also granted permission to hire five seasonal employees, who will help with mosquito spraying during the summer months.

An aerial spraying contract for the town of Saratoga was given to the sole bidder, Circle S Aviation LLC. They bid to spray larvicide at a rate of two pints an acre for $1.95 an acre, and to spray adulticide at a rate of three ounces an acre for $1.40 an acre. Spraying will be conducted on Fridays, conditions permitting, Winter said.

The recreation department likewise brought on another lifeguard, in anticipation of the opening of the pool on June 20. Head of the recreation department Lisa Burton said that the pool was opening slightly later than usual this year due to lingering winter weather and required maintenance projects.

Burton also announced the beginning of summer T-ball and a British soccer camp in town for area children.

The planning commission announced that acting police chief Robert Bifano would be taking the previous police chief Thomas Knickerbocker’s seat in that body. Knickerbocker announced his resignation from the department and the commission at the last council meeting.

The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 21 at the town hall building. The final reading of Saratoga’s fiscal year 2017 budget will take place at this meeting

 

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