Taxes, leashes and firearms

Riverside council touches on reduction in tourism revenue, publicizing leash law and possible firearm restrictions


Riverside Town Council sped through its agenda Thursday in about 30 minutes, dispensing of most routine business quickly.

Several issues took up more time than usual council business, however; an apparent reduction in tourism spending, a leash law and a new firearms ordinance.

While discussing the Carbon County Visitor’s Council report, council member Fred Lorenz said he had spoken to the visitor’s council and learned that between October 2015 and September 2016, lodging tax collection was down 70 percent over the same period in prior years.

Riverside Mayor Leroy Stephenson, who is owner of the Lazy Acres Campground in Riverside, said that his business had seen more visitors in July 2016 than in July 2015, but saw slight reductions in tourist visits in August and September, with significant reductions in October business.

Lorenz said after speaking to the visitor’s council, some of the reduction in lodging tax revenues was due to a large project at the Sinclair refinery wrapping up, meaning many non-local contractors who had been staying in hotels in Rawlins had left. But that, Lorenz said, could not explain all the loss in visitors.

“It was just a strange year,” Stephenson said. “I have people from out-of-state who usually come to hunt elk who didn’t draw this year,” Stevenson said, referring to the drawing system for hunting licenses.

Council members also briefly discussed the town’s leash law after council member Liz Swynarczuk said she saw an individual at the town park with a loose dog that may have been chasing wildlife. Stephenson said he was unaware of the fact Riverside had a leash law, but that since the town does have one, it should be posted at the town park.

The town council also discussed firearms regulations in the town of Riverside. Last month, Stephenson brought up a firearms discharge that occurred in town, and a small debate was held about firearms regulations and state law.

Swynarczuk said she had done research about municipal firearms regulations. Wyoming, she said, is a home rule state meaning that municipalities can pass ordinances more restrictive than state law if they wish. State laws allowing people to protect themselves or their livestock would be unaffected, Swynarczuk said, but implied other regulations regarding firearms use in the town could be regulated by town ordinance.

Swynarczuk used fireworks as an example of home rule; while Wyoming state law allows individuals to purchase and use fireworks, individual towns and municipalities are free to pass ordinances banning fireworks use in town.

If the town were to consider firearms regulations, it may have to get an opinion from the Wyoming Attorney General’s office to ensure the ordinance does not run afoul of state law, Swynarczuk said.

At this time, the council has not written or voted on any firearms regulation for the town.

The next regular meeting of the Riverside Town Council will be 6 p.m. Jan. 12, 2017, at the Town of Riverside Building.


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