The Saratoga Sun -

Airport board back on town radar

Saratoga Town Council approves second reading of airport board ordinances, hears comments on it


April 10, 2019

The Saratoga Airport Board was, again, a top subject during the April 2 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council. The second reading of Ordinances 850, 851 and 852 all passed unanimously—minus absent council member Judy Welton, but not without public comment from Ellie Dana, a member of the now-dissolved airport board.

In addition to passing the second reading of the three ordinances, the council approved expenditures for the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department, the purchase of a new robotic pool cleaner for the recreation department and heard updates from the Department of Public Works (DPW).

As was reported previously (see “Good work, bad structure” and “Airport board (dis)solution” on page 1 of the March 27 Saratoga Sun), the town council introduced a resolution during the final meeting in March that dissolved the Saratoga Airport Board. Ordinance 850 proposes a repeal of chapter 14.08 of the Saratoga Municipal Code and Ordinance 851 proposes to rewrite that chapter and restructure the airport board as an advisory board. Ordinance 852 would change municipal code 14.04.010 in regards to the minimum standards.

The first ordinance in the pack, 850, was read and passed unanimously with no public comment provided. The second ordinance, 851, was read and, before voting on the second reading, Dana stood for public comment and was recognized by the council.

The airport board member, keeping her comments within the two minute time period put in place by the council, addressed several issues she saw with the proposed replacement of chapter 14.08 of the municipal code.

“I’m here to say to you, Mr. Mayor and council, that ordinance 851 is flawed. The language is incorrect. For example, where you say there is only to be one hangar lessee on the board, I would suggest to you that there is no hangar lessee at the airport and your language is incorrect. This is probably due to a lack of understanding on your part of what goes on in the airport leases and who owns what,” said Dana.

Dana expressed her concern that ordinance 851 did not grant authority to the proposed advisory board to engage with the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), adding that the advisory board could not “provide responsible recommendations to you, or to council, without that authority. The ordinance contains no language regarding the duties or actions need to meet grant assurances which the board and the town are both responsible for.”

Additionally, Dana stated that she felt the ordinances violated the Wyoming Open Meeting act because they were done “in secrecy” and therefore had no legal standing. She added that, while the airport board had operated for 41 years without being sued, “the town, the two council members and the mayor having served prior terms cannot say the same thing.”

Following her concerns, Dana suggested the council consider not moving forward with the ordinances and, instead, holding a workshop with the airport board, WyDOT and FAA.

“We need to have research and some consultation into the operation and management of other Wyoming airports. I think you should solicit legal advice from outside a town attorney, especially those related to FAA mandates, and consider who benefits from this change,” said Dana.

Dana ended her comments by stating “I would urge you, Mr. Mayor, who campaigned on the issue of being transparent, and the council, who is representing itself as acting in the best interest of the town, to consider acting in line with both of these fine principals. Try some open discussion and, probably, some massive disagreement. You will present the best possible result for the town.”

Following her comments, council member Steve Wilcoxson brought up the one-mile buffer zone, stating that due to Dana living at the Old Baldy Club, he personally felt that she had no standing in front of the council. Wilcoxson’s comments led to a brief exchange of words between the council member and Randy Raymer in which Wilcoxson doubled down on his statement that Dana had no standing in front of the council due to living outside of town limits.

Ordinance 851, having no further public comment and no discussion from the council, was passed unanimously for its second reading. Ordinance 852 was also passed unanimously with no public comment or council discussion.

Since the passage of the resolution during the March 19 town council meeting, the Saratoga Airport Board has 90 days to complete any business before its complete dissolution.

The Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD), represented by Fire Chief Pat Vining, requested the use of funds to purchase several items totaling $9,398. This included two new radios and pagers in the amount of $5,352, material for the construction of training props for $356, rescue webbing along with swiftwater boots and vests for $470, four new batteries for a thermal imaging camera for $220 and the removal of the old trailer across from the fireman’s hall for $3,000.

Council member Jon Nelson informed the rest of the council that, following the budget workshop the previous night, he had taken a close look at the current budget for the fire department. According to Nelson, he felt that there was still enough remaining in the budget for the council to approve the purchase of the items requested. Rather than approve the total expenditure requested, the council approved each item separately and the amount quoted to them by Vining.

Following the purchase approvals, SVFD member Brad Cary addressed the council in regards to the budget.

“I think that people need to understand how hard you guys are working to bring this budget in line,” said Cary. “I was very much impressed with the progress you’re making and I just want you to know how much we appreciate it. Not only the fire department, but the community. You guys are working hard and I think you’re heading in the right direction as far as your budget process. I think you guys are doing a great job.”

Lisa Burton, Recreation Department Director, informed the council that she would need to send the robotic pool cleaner used by the Town of Saratoga in for repairs. According to Burton, she sent the piece of machinery into the manufacturer at the end of the summer for a quote on repairs, which totaled $1,246. Discussion between the council and Burton revealed that this was the third time the cleaner would be sent in for repairs since its purchase in 2011.

Burton informed the council that a new cleaner would cost $3,442.95, which lead to further discussion about whether a new cleaner could be purchased while keeping enough in the budget for issues such as a pump breaking down. It was decided that, even with the purchase of the robotic cleaner, the replacement of a pump could be absorbed by the recreation department’s budget. The request to purchase the cleaner was approved unanimously.

Jon Winter, DPW Director, requested the purchase of additional materials for the Veterans’ Island bridge in the amount of $530 which was approved unanimously. Winter informed the council that the Water and Sewer Department had been replacing a 6” valve going into the Old Baldy Club off Condict Court and that the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District would begin construction of their bunkhouses on June 1.

The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be at 6 p.m. on April 16 at Saratoga Town Hall.


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