News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
County OKs extra funding for Family Planning Services
May 7, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Family planning programs are on surer financial footing this month after the Fremont County Commission approved extra funding for Family Planning Services.
"(We're) looking about $14,000 healthier than when we talked to you guys last," Family Planning Services project director Julie Twist said. "I know we're down a little bit, (but) I think it's going to get better."
Twist was asking for a $5,300 transfer from the general fund's cash reserve to cover a projected shortfall between revenues and expenditures for this fiscal year.
Smaller shortfall Twist told commissioners
Dec. 18 that she expected a $19,000 shortfall. At that meeting, the county board voted 4-1 to support a grant application the program was making for federal funds, but the commission did not approve giving money to the program itself.
At the meeting this week, Twist announced that Family Planning Services had secured new grants since the December meeting, reducing the lack of funds from $19,000 to $5,300.
Fremont County Family Planning Services offers subsidized birth control services, sexually transmitted disease testing, pregnancy tests, annual exams, counseling and education.
Chairman Doug Thompson said when the program started last summer, the county board said it would not spend general fund money on the program.
"When we started we said, 'Fine, we'll take it on, but it has to be sustainable,'" Thompson said.
Revenue for the program largely comes from grants and user fees.
The request for $5,300 was part of a larger package of budget transfers, including $379,000 to hire an architect to design a new Riverton justice center. Commissioner Keja Whiteman compared the two numbers.
"When we're looking at the scheme of things, $5,300 to supplement women's health, and we're putting $379,000 into a justice center. I think we're definitely getting our money's worth," Whiteman said, congratulating Twist for requesting less money from the commission than anticipated. "I thought it'd be closer to $19,000 short, and the year isn't up yet."
In the end, the commission voted 4-1 to approve the funds for Family Planning Services and the other adjustments. Only Thompson voted against it, though approval of the $5,300 transfer does not necessarily mean the money will leave the general fund.
Twist said she was pleased at the commission's decision.
"We're good to go for the rest of the year," Twist said after the meeting.
She is also excited that her client base is expanding.
"We're seeing a lot more clients," Twist said. "Riverton has been busy, but Lander is really picking up."
She said Family Planning Services would not have been able to continue, or would have had to cut its budget, if either this week's or December's commission votes had gone the other way. Both referendums on the program had the same vote totals -- current commissioners Stephanie Kessler and Larry Allen, who joined the county board in the intervening months, voted the same way as former commissioners Pat Hickerson and Dennis Christensen, who were on the board during the December meeting.
The program had weaker support when it started. Last year, it needed the commission's backing to apply for a grant to take over federally funded family planning services in Fremont County. On Jan. 3, 2012, the board voted 3-2 to approve the application. In April 2012, Family Planning Services was initiated as a county program. Before then, Western Wyoming Family Services provided similar programs, using the federal funding that Family Planning Services now receives.