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City to offer ideas to WAM on retirement and liquor rules

Mar 20, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Riverton City Council plans to submit three new resolutions for consideration during this year's Wyoming Association of Municipalities convention.

Members discussed the resolutions during a regular meeting this month.

The WAM Board of Trustees accepts resolutions from municipalities and uses the documents to set policy priorities for future legislative sessions.

Last year, the city submitted the beer tax resolution that would have increased the tax on malt beverages to the national average of 28 cents per gallon. Riverton also expressed interest in the local-option sales tax that would have let voters impose optional sales and use taxes for their municipalities.

The malt beverage tax failed at introduction in February this year in the Wyoming legislative session but received more votes of support compared to last year's votes in the session.

Unemployment benefits

For this year, staff put together an item that deals with city employees who are terminated and ineligible for unemployment benefits.

The former employees often find new employment but are terminated again. The city then becomes responsible for providing unemployment benefits for that individual as long as he or she remains in the "look-back period."

The same issue surfaces when a city employee leaves a city job for new employment and is terminated. The city then receives a bill to pay for unemployment wages because the individual is still in the same time frame from their previous city job.

"Once again we get a bill in the mail from unemployment saying that we're within the look-back period of the 18 months," city administrator Steven Weaver said. "Therefore we get charged for that, when it wasn't the city that was at fault at all in any of these cases. Yet we get stuck with the bill."

Weaver said other employers also deal with the same issue, and the city's resolution could apply to them as well.

Liquor licenses

Weaver also proposed an idea that would give cities more control over liquor licenses. Currently, he said cities don't have much control.

Weaver explained that a resolution would give the council "more teeth" in resolving or dealing with the holder of the liquor license when an issue emerges. He suggested "probation type" actions or other active solutions.

Council member Richard Gard responded that the purpose of the resolution would not be to take away or not approve licenses. Instead, the city could have more "interaction" with the businesses and distribute positive information, Gard said. Mayor Ron Warpness agreed with Gard and said control would only be used when needed.

"But when you do get down in the trenches, and you start running into problems, and you find that you don't have any authority, it's a little bit frustrating," he said.

Currently, Weaver said the city can deny a license renewal, but then the issue goes to court, and the city must have a strong, supported reason for denying a license.

The council agreed to looking at other states and cities and see how they control liquor licenses.

Retirement

City staff also suggested a resolution pertaining to city elected officials and the Wyoming Retirement System.

"There should be some sort of exemption or rules or state statute that an elected official doesn't have to resign to retire from his or her own personal job," Weaver told the city council.

That scenario came up when former council member Lars Baker had to resign from council because the state retirement system required him to do so after retiring from his county job.

Both are covered under the same retirement system, and a 30-day separation period was needed so Baker could be reassigned to his city council seat. However, after the 30 days had passed, a council closed vote failed to reassign him to the council.

City staff encouraged the council to suggest more resolution ideas before the April submission deadline.

Council member Jonathan Faubion suggested a resolution that involved Riverton Regional Airport and state support to help to subsidize the airline operations there.

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Riverton City Council