Gettin' 'er done

Saratoga council deals with, hears about a slew of issues before retiring to executive session

 


With less than five members of the public in attendance, the Saratoga Town Council covered a broad slate of items during its Sept. 20 meeting.

The council voted in favor of zone-change sought by Trivest Enterprises, the resignation of Saratoga’s representative on the South Central Wyoming Emergency Medical Service’s board (SCWEMS) was announced, and the meeting ended with a 45-minute executive session closed to the public. At the meeting, acting police chief Robert Bifano also shared some information on the town’s efforts to update its E911 routing system for emergency calls.

Trivest zone change

given go-ahead

The Trivest decision was the latest hurdle cleared for the developer. Since July, Trivest has been pursuing a zone change on a 4.2 acre parcel on the southern edge of town west of HWY 130. The firm plans on constructing townhouses in the area, but cannot proceed until the parcel’s RD7200 designation is changed.

Initially, Trivest sought a change to RD 9000, but faced opposition to that classification due to the fact that trailer parks could be constructed on RD 9000 lots. Switching tack, Trivest then applied for an RD 9002 designation, which does not allow for trailer courts, and the planning commission voted to recommend the code change to the town council, over objections from nearby business owner Tim Lamprecht.


Will Faust, who serves on both the council and the planning commission, brought the other council members up to speed during a special 25-minute hearing before the Sept. 20 meeting began. “Really (Trivest’s plans) are a shift to multi-unit dwellings in a part of town where it’s probably appropriate,” mayor Ed Glode said. The council voted unanimously to approve the new RD 9002 designation, which will go into effect following final approval from the planning commission at their next meeting, Oct. 11.

SCWEMS Triangle

The resignation of Cindy Faulkner, who was appointed to the SCWEMS board in August, came as a blow to a group that has been hamstrung by difficulties in recent months. In a letter submitted to the board, Faulkner, a physician’s assistant, cited time conflicts with her work as a reason for her abrupt departure.

“We’ve got a challenge ahead of us (at SCWEMS),” Glode said at the meeting. The mayor reported that he sat in on the last SCWEMS meeting Sept. 14, and that he felt the board “has some homework to do.”

A big issue facing SCWEMS, in Glode’s reckoning, is what he called the organization’s “Bermuda Triangle of authority.” Glode explained that, “essentially, the voting board (composed largely of EMTs) is the ambulance director’s boss, and the ambulance director is the EMTs’ boss and then you go back up to the board.” SCWEMS also does not have a full-time secretary and these two issues leave “room for improvement on the SCWEMS board, starting here in Saratoga,” Glode concluded.

911 $$$

From the police department, acting chief Robert Bifano said slow but steady progress was being made on efforts to update the town’s E911 call-routing service. The E911 system is the relay system that routes emergency calls from a center in Cheyenne to the Carbon County Sheriff’s Department or the Saratoga Police Department (SPD).

Under the current conjoined system, all of the SPD’s calls are first received by the Sheriff’s office, which relays them to the SPD. Occasionally, Bifano said, “Our 911s would end up going to the Sheriff’s office and not make it here to us.”

In addition to efficacy, costs have also become an issue in the last year. The conjoined E911 system was installed about five years ago by the Sheriff’s Department at no cost to the town, but Bifano said a year ago the County started charging Saratoga over $1,500 a month for use of the system. Then, two months ago, the chief said those costs increased again, to around $2,300 a month.

“The system’s not working optimally for us, so I figure if we’re going to be spending that kind of money, let’s just have our own system that’s a lot easier to maintain,” Bifano said. He said cost estimates for installation of the system were roughly $80,000, but that simplifying the system and being able to operate it locally would make future budgeting and maintenance easier.

The police department is waiting on phone operators CenturyLINK and Union Wireless to arrive at a final installation and monthly charge package for the town before moving ahead with the upgrade.

Helicopter windfall

While Saratoga’s E911 cost burden has recently increased, the town saw a minor windfall over the summer from fees charged to firefighting helicopters that used Shively Field as a base, council member Richard Raymer said. He said each helicopter has been paying the town $150 per day landing fee, in addition to a “flowage fee” of $.10 per gallon of fuel the aircraft pumped. According to town clerk Suzie Cox, as of Sept. 9 these charges had produced a total revenue of over $4,600.

Transfer station gets foundation

Continued headway on several other fronts was also reported at the town council meeting. A foundation has been poured for a new landfill transfer station, Raymer said.

Dump station pays itself

Though department of public works head John Winter’s was away at a rural water conference, a written report from him said an RV dumping station installed earlier this year had already paid for itself. Winter’s report also stated that his department continued to work with regulatory agencies in preparation for a Platte River gravel bar clearing project slated for winter.

Garden harvest

Harvest is underway at the Saratoga Community Garden, and Dave Worthington said that the experimental hugulkultur beds have been a big success. According to garden member Cindy Bloomquist, harvested vegetables have been donated to the Saratoga Senior Center and garden members.

The meeting concluded with a 45-minute executive session minutes of which were sealed. Following the executive session, the council voted to hire Tyler Christen as a new full-time police officer for the town.

The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be 6 p.m., Oct. 4 at the town hall building.

 

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