No increases to utility rates or building rental fees in city budget

City of Evanston Treasurer Trudy Lym presents the annual budget summary to the Evanston City Council during the June 16 meeting. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — The Evanston City Council met for their regular meeting on June 16, with all six council members and Mayor Kent Williams in attendance and still practicing social distancing.

There was one item on the consent agenda, which was a request by Travis and Jennifer Wilson for a street closure permit for a neighborhood July 4 block party on Summit Street between 6th Street and 7th Street, from 4:00-11:50 pm. The permit was approved.

The council then turned to new business.

Gordon Robinson, Director of Public Works, addressed Resolution 20-43, authorizing the execution of a well drilling agreement and release of claims with Broken Circle Cattle Co.

As explained in the written agreement, the city had been granted a right of way and easement for a water pipeline across Myers Land and Livestock Company in July of 1965 in order to provide the city with water. As part of the original easement agreement the city constructed, operated and maintained a 4-inch water service main to serve the landowner’s ranch headquarters.

Broken Circle is the successor to the Myers Land and Livestock Company. The city no longer uses the pipeline because it has a new river intake structure and water pipeline to provide water to the community and the old system to Broken Circle is aged and unreliable. Under the new agreement the city will provide Broken Circle with a different source of domestic water by drilling and completing a well for domestic water use.

Resolution 20-44, authorizing the execution of a select program agreement with Bentley Systems, Inc. to provide computer software for modeling of the city’s water distribution system, was the next item on the agenda.

Barker explained, “This system will be a major part of our toolbox to monitor pressure changes and model the city’s water distribution system and show deficiencies in the system. This is part of the water fund budget.”

Mayor Williams asked about the cost and Barker said the first year’s cost would be approximately $20,000 and $4,000 each year after. They will provide training and support assistance. He said the cost is based on the number of pipes to monitor and the city currently has 2,600. Barker also addressed the next resolution, 20-45, authorizing the execution of a cooperative agreement with the Wyoming Department of Transportation for funding to be used in the reconstruction of a portion of City View Drive from Sioux Drive to Del Rio Drive.

Estimated costs for construction, engineering and other indirect costs total $2,494,191. Funding breakdown for the project is $2,060,772 from WYDOT’s Maximum Federal Urban Funds, with a match from the City of Evanston of $195,979 plus an overmatch of $237,440.

“This agreement with WYDOT allows us to be one step closer to  the completion of City View Drive,” Barker said.

Resolution 20-46, authorizing the execution of an agreement with low-bidder Consolidated Paving and Concrete, Inc. for the completion of all work required for the summer 2020 street maintenance overlay project for a total cost of $438,629.86, was approved.

Last on the agenda was City Treasurer Trudy Lym, who read her prepared budget summary prior to council approval.

Lym said amounts in the proposed budget are just a forecast of potential revenues and estimated expenses and are used as a guide. The city’s main source of revenue is sales tax generated in the community. Lym said revenue amounts fluctuate and in April of this year payment for tax collected was down 1.8%. She said the challenges of normal fluctuations, plus the recent closures of businesses and the canceled events as a result of COVID-19, have presented obstacles in estimating tax revenues for the upcoming year.

“Gasoline tax started off low this year but has come back and is approximately the same as previous years. Tobacco tax remains steady as well as property tax. We continue to receive a distribution from the state of Wyoming. The amount we received this last year was approximately 1.4 million. Going into this next year, we have only budgeted half of this amount due to financial hardships the state of Wyoming is seeing as a result of reduced oil prices and COVID-19,” Lym said.

Lym congratulated department heads and city staff for their diligence in reducing costs so the city has not had to use any reserves. She said the council had decided not to add a cost of living increase for employees this next fiscal budget and will carefully evaluate staffing when someone retires or leaves employment.

“The citizens of Evanston will be happy to see that we will not be increasing water, sewer or garbage rates. ... Additionally, we will not be making any changes to any of the other rates associated with the City of Evanston, including the rental of the buildings,” Lym said.

“Overall our total budget is estimated at $25,342,331. Of this amount, $5,626,584 is contingent on the receipt of grant funding, leaving our total budget amount 13% less than anticipated last year,” Lym said.

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