County Commissioners talk budget

By Brandie Collins
Posted 6/20/24

NIOBRARA COUNTY – The Niobrara County Commissioners met for their second meeting of the month, looking over the budget with department heads.

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County Commissioners talk budget


NIOBRARA COUNTY – The Niobrara County Commissioners met for their second meeting of the month, looking over the budget with department heads.

Road and Bridge supervisor Fred Thomas updated the commissioners on upcoming projects with new headwalls and the replacement of cattle guards. Thomas said that Road and Bridge were waiting for bond paperwork to be processed and signed.

With the weather becoming dryer, Thomas said that new gravel will soon be placed on county roads. He also reported that new hire Kassidy Bruegger will be completing his CDL (Commercial Drivers License) training this week. He is slated to take his driver’s test at the end of the week.

Thomas went over his budget with the commissioners. There was a brief discussion concerning the maintenance of trucks.

County Attorney Annie Wasserburger gave a brief report concerning her department’s budget. Wasserburger asked whether her staff member, Becky Blackburn, would be eligible for an employee raise if and when the commissioners decide to approve is. Wasserburger explained how valuable Blackburn has been to her and her department. The commissioners had not discussed employee raises yet. They did agree with Wasserburger that she and Blackburn do work very hard, especially as a two women team.  The commissioners expressed their appreciation the ladies’ hard work throughout the year.

County Clerk Becky Freeman went over a few items in the budget concerning insurance fees being raised, a commissioner’s bond for the newly elected commissioner this fall, and few other expenses included the stamp machine, xerox contract, and so on.

At the time of the meeting, the budget had not been approved. The commissioners still had several items to look over in the budget before approving it.

Consultant Dru Bower gave a brief update on issues surrounding the Bureau of Land Management. Bower reported that the sage grouse plan was now complete. Bower said that there will be a town hall in Gillette on June 25 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Gillette College.  According to chairman Patrick Wade, Niobrara county hired Bower as a consultant to have their own resource plan when having to work with the federal government. Niobrara county and the Niobrara County Conservation District have been working jointly with land conservation.

Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) District Construction Engineer Mark Williams gave a brief presentation outlining what WYDOT expectations were for the year. Williams talked about how there will be a focus on the WYDOT brand. The agency hopes to improve public relations within the community. He discussed topics ranging from the concerns of rising costs to upcoming projects in Niobrara County.

Leslie Stewart gave an update on the old jail. She and several volunteers spent time preparing the old jail for tours on June 22 during Alumni weekend. She went over the plans for tours and fielding public feedback on what the county should do with the old jail.

A public hearing was held for community feedback concerning changing an agriculture zone to a special use permit. Based on the recommendation of the zoning and planning committee, the commissioners agreed that it would be prudent to change the zone to a special use permit instead of changing the zone. With no public sentiments against or for this course of action, the commissioners approved this action. This was for a small telecommunications hut and generator. A fence will be erected around the telecommunications area.

The next County Commissioners meeting will be held on July 2 at 9 a.m. at the County Courthouse