The Saratoga Sun -

Budgets, books and bullets

Riverside council discusses budget, county tax shares, Great Divide gateway possibility, library contributions and in-town firearm discharges


Riverside Town Council met Tuesday to take care of routine town business, discuss a donation to the Encampment branch of the Carbon County Library and to discuss becoming a gateway community for the Continental Divide Trail.

In routine business, the council members discussed the town’s budget and receipts of county taxes. Since July, the beginning of the fiscal year, the town received $81.42, even though the town had budgeted $6,300 in county tax receipts. Jan Cook, town clerk, told board members that the budgeted amount was based on previous years’ collections, and that when property and automobile taxes are remitted by the county, the receipts for the year should improve.

Lee Ann Stephenson, a public attendee at the meeting and wife of mayor Leroy Stephenson, said she noticed when registering cars, even though she lived in Riverside, her tax was earmarked for Encampment because of her mailing address, a P.O. Box in Encampment. This led her to wonder if the town of Encampment was being paid tax revenues that should be paid to Riverside.

“You have to be really specific with them (workers at the county clerk’s office) or else they just put Encampment and your vehicle tax goes to Encampment,” Lee Ann Stephenson said. She had noticed that a worker at the courthouse had marked her vehicle tax to go to Encampment instead of Riverside, and had to request the worker correct it, she said.

Leroy Stephenson said he knew that was a problem in the past, but didn’t know that it had become an issue again.

The Council took about 15 minutes to hear local resident John Farr discuss the Continental Divide Trail and the towns of Riverside and Encampment becoming gateway towns to the trail.

The 3,100-mile trail runs from Deming, New Mexico near the Mexico border, to Glacier National Park at the Canadian Border, and this year marks the trail’s 50th anniversary. The Continental Divide Trail Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the trail, is seeking out gateway communities near the trail and the Riverside/Encampment community is one of only three communities in Wyoming that qualify as gateway communities. The other two are Rawlins and Dubois, Farr said.

Gateway communities get recognition from the coalition, Farr said, and are marked on maps as areas for hikers along the trail to stop for supplies or other needs. By applying to be a gateway community, Riverside/Encampment may see increased economic activity coming in from the trail, especially during the summer months when hikers are passing though.

The towns would also receive special signage designating them as gateway communities, Farr said, also saying that the application to become a gateway community for the trail would cost the towns nothing.

The coalition does, however, request that gateway communities host a special event to commemorate the trail. Farr said he planned on speaking to the Lion’s Club to discuss whether or not the Lions would be open to having the annual Woodchopper’s Jamboree cross-designated as the event for the trail.

The town council members in Riverside expressed interest in discussing being designated as a gateway community for the trail, and said it would discuss the issue further after Farr discussed the matter with the town council of Encampment and the Lions club to see if the Lions would allow the Woodchoppers’ Jamboree to be designated as the special event for the trail.

The Riverside Council also discussed a donation to the Encampment Branch of the Carbon County Library System. Earlier this year, budget cuts and resignations threw the library system into upheaval.

During the budget dispute, towns such as Riverside and Encampment expressed an interest in donating money to the local branch to help it stay open and continue to deliver the same services. However, the library system was not setup to allow contributions to individual branches. Instead, any funds donated by the towns would go into the County Library budget and would be distributed as the board saw fit.

In response, concerned citizens of the towns of Encampment and Riverside established a friends of the library group, a nonprofit tasked with gathering funds that would only benefit the local branch of the library.

Last month, however, Carbon County library director Jacob Mickelson visited Riverside and told the council members that the library could now accept donations earmarked for only one branch.

Earlier in the year, Riverside set aside money to donate to the library, as long as the town had reassurances the money would only be used for operations at the local branch. The council had not yet donated money to the library, however.

Council members spent a good portion of Tuesday’s meeting trying to decide to whom the town would donate the earmarked funds; the Library system or the friends of the library. After several minutes of debate, the members decided they needed more information and said they would gather that information and make a decision regarding the donation at a future meeting.

The council also discussed the discharge of firearms within the town limits. Leroy Stephenson said he had received a complaint from residents regarding shots being fired at a residence in town.

The mayor said he investigated and discovered the resident has used a .22 rifle to kill two skunks that had gotten into the resident’s chicken coop.

Stephenson said under his interpretation of state law, the use of firearms to kill vermin that are a threat to domestic livestock is a right guaranteed by state law, and that law supersedes the town’s ordinances.

After several minutes’ discussion regarding the firearms law, the board adjourned.

The next meeting of the Riverside Town Council will be 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at Riverside Town Hall.


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