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WAM to push supplemental funding for towns

Jun 14, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

A busy agenda awaited the attending public officials and staff from the cities of Wyoming as the Wyoming Association of Municipalities convention continued at Riverton City Hall and Riverton High School.

Comments and suggestions were encouraged during the legislative service committee meeting Thursday, moderated by Cheyenne Mayor Rick Raysen and George Parks, WAM's executive director.

They touched on important issues WAM hopes to address at the 2014 legislative session.

Municipal funding was listed as a high priority, and the WAM leaders said the goal is to secure as much supplemental funding as possible for the 2015-16 biennium.

Judy Johnstone, the mayor of Burns, expressed concern on the divisions placed on existing funds provided by the state and also limitations placed on the spending of them. Two other mayors discussed whether the revenue stream coming in to cities was sufficient in the long term.

Raysen added that about $135 million in supplemental funding came in for the 2013-2014 budget, with an additional $33 million from the State Loan and Investment Board. He predicted that Gov. Matt Mead will continue proposing that some revenue from severance tax revenues be diverted away from the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund and instead be given to local governments.

"It's the number-one option for improving financial stability in our local governments," Raysen said.

The continuation of grant programs also was on the list of WAM's high priorities, as were jurisdiction and legal publication issues sat at the top. Slight changes in the provisions in unemployment benefits is an area WAM intends to support, as well as the transfer programs from solid waste and landfills, with state funding assistance.

Other agenda topics for the convention focus on community and economic development, public safety, energy, transportation and environment and natural resources.

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