Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Rate increases pass with split vote


December 13, 2018

In a rare display of dissent in the Sundance council chambers, a split vote last week saw Mayor Paul Brooks cast the tie-breaker to pass a four percent rate increase on utilities. Council Member Joe Wilson, supported by Council Member Jana McLean, had wanted to table the question for a month to see what a change of leadership in Moorcroft might bring to the garbage situation.

Wilson made the motion to table the rate increase, saying that he would like to see whether Moorcroft will be successful in its plans to keep its landfill open. As explained by Brooks, the town will be under new management in the new year, though it has retained some of the same council members after the recent elections.

Wilson told his fellow council members that he had a conversation with the incoming mayor, Dick Claar, who would really like Sundance to once again haul to Moorcroft – at a substantially cheaper rate than is currently being spent to haul to Gillette. If that happens, he said, would there be a need to raise the rates at all?

“They have spoken with [the Department of Environmental Quality] and believe they are going to get permitted for two vertical expansions,” said Brooks.

“They believe they are going to get this done fairly rapidly…and at that point they believe they are going to turn this over to a private company to run their landfill.”

That, said Wilson, would give them approximately five more operational years at the landfill and allow Moorcroft to explore the possibility of permitting new lined cells. If not, said Wilson, Claar told him that the town could still enter into the cease and transfer program.

“I would like to see what happens with that,” Wilson said.

Public Works Director Mac Erickson, however, felt that the rate increase would still be helpful even if the city was able to haul at a cheaper rate.

“The transfer station is just barely taking care of itself…we’re not getting rich by any means,” he said, adding that the city is losing money on hauling construction and debris due to being unable to get enough tonnage in the roll-off containers. “Right now, the construction and debris is costing us.”

Clerk Treasurer Kathy Lenz pointed out that there have been instances in the past where the city has changed its landfill rate mid-year, so it would be possible to adjust it again later with an amended resolution.

Brooks meanwhile expressed his reluctance to saddle an incoming council member with a complex rate schedule question in January.

“I do have some concern going forward that next month we will be seating a new councilman and I would really prefer we do this now,” he said, suggesting it would be unfair to ask them to jump into this on their first night.

The vote to table the rate increase was defeated with the mayor’s tie-breaker vote and a second motion to adjust the rate schedule to show a four percent increase was passed, again with a tie-breaker vote, with Wilson and McLean voting against it.


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