WRS changes could be coming for county


LUSK - The April 18, 2023 meeting of the County Commissioners opened with Fred Thomas reporting on the Road and Bridge. They have begun the road project and called to find out if Niobrara was going to be running extra trucks on the new road which Thomas stated the county would not be running extra trucks. They are beginning to crush gravel in Newcastle in time for the repairs that we need to do in the county. The roads in the county did not sustain much plow damage There were a few washouts and some gravel washed out on the sides of the road, but nothing that can't be fixed according to Thomas. They will be repairing some of the wings on the cattle guards in the shop this week and Thomas said they had worked through the holiday to make sure people could get out.

Jeremiah Rieman, inquiring for the Governor, has emailed questioning how many hours were spent exclusively on the plowing the winters of 2021, 2022 and 2023, which was sent to every county. This query was for the budget coming up this summer.

Commissioner Elaine Griffith tried to call about the easements across state lands and has not heard back yet. 

The county received the grant for the Public Health Building for the remodel. There might be a slight delay since the contractor is doing other jobs at this time. 

The rest of the Old Business was tabled for a later date.

Sheriff Starkey reported that he has put in for a grant to purchase a side by side and trailer for the Sheriff's Department. If approved they will not have to borrow the equipment from the Police Department. The Police department equipment was utilized four times during the last storm, so it's definitely needed.

There was a zoom meeting with the Wyoming Retirement System for informational purposes. There were explanations for Law Enforcement and Public Employee. An explanation about the different Tiers of retirement, along with the percentages used for retirement funds. The WRS representative gave the numbers for Plan 457 which is what the county uses and what the numbers would be through the newer plans. The new plan states the employee needs to be vested for 48 months before they can start to build the lifetime retirement plan. In order to get into the retirement plan each employee must join without any opting out. If one person opts out, no one can get the newer plan. If an employee has twenty years into the 457 plan, that individual will still need to work 48 months in the new plan before eligibility to buy into a roll over for previous years. The average cost of buying 5 years from the old program is approximately $100,000 but if the employee buys the 5 years from the old plan after being vested the years will add to the new plan and the employee will end up with 9 years credit. 

The County Attorney, Anne Wasserburger joined the meeting and said she had nothing to report. There was a discussion about the Newcastle BLM Resource Cooperating Agency. Concern was expressed about the plan not being transparent before the public has a chance to voice their concerns. On attorney advice the county should not agree to any final statements until the public has a chance to speak their minds. 

Weed and Pest district supervisor Gail Mahnke came to present the Commissioners with commemorative mugs for the 50th Anniversary of the Weed and Pest Control Act. She thanked all present for their support in the past.

The Wyoming Child and Family Development attended the meeting. There was Kalene White, center Director, Kari Dickson, volunteer and Area Coordinator Mary Cooper. They were discussing what the Center does and how it impacts the FY24 funding. The center is considering starting a babysitting service from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Potentially two shifts to cross over and fill the need in town for child care with a case load of 8 total. This would be under grants they would have to apply for and it would have to be approved by their council. 

The alley construction would be May 18-22 and the company says it should only take one day, about 8 hours. Sheriff Starkey is staying on top of the dates and times.

The 24 hour catering permit for Lusk Liquor Store for the Barb Rapp benefit was moved and approved.

Debbie Sturman and Kathy Coon, representing the library board told the Commissioners about the shelving they need for the library. The old shelving is tipping over and is too unstable to leave up. The Library Foundation provided funding for the new shelving, paint for the walls and area replacement for the carpeting but need supplemental income for the labor to do the job. The Commissioners told them to go ahead and order the supplies and shelving and they will find the funding for the labor at budget time. 

There was a conference call with the Congressional Tour and Griffith is working on where to have the group gather and finding background music for the dinner. She is also working on some entertainment during the meal.

Sheriff Starkey had a discussion with the Commissioners about the water damage in the jail and what needs done. The Consent Agenda was read, moved and approved and the meeting was adjourned.