Council agrees to help fund match for economic development grant



Lovell Inc. Director Sue Taylor came to the Basin Town Council at the regular work meeting last Tuesday seeking verbal and financial support for an economic development planning grant.

Taylor, who had come to the council earlier this year seeking funding for Lovell Inc., said she plans to hold office hours in Basin twice a week starting in January. She said she wants to find out what Basin needs.

“Basically you’re hiring me to do a job and just not paying me yet,” Taylor said. She added that Lovell Inc., while wanting to expand it services county-wide, would not be changing its name.

She then turned her attention to the grant. She said the idea for a county-wide economic development grant was presented to the mayors at their October meeting. She said Lovell Inc. would like to submit the grant by the Dec. 1 deadline to get in on the first round of funding of the new planning grant program offered by the Wyoming Business Council. She said since it would be a county-wide plan, she will be seeking support from the county to be the sponsoring agency at the commissioners Nov. 20 meeting.

She is also seeking support from each community. Lovell Inc. is seeking a $50,000 grant, which requires a 25 percent match. She said she figured estimates for each community and the county by $1.50 per capita. Basin’s total is $1,935.

Mayor Amy Kania said at the October meeting the mayors had wanted to wait until the next funding cycle so they could budget for the match and so new members coming in January would have a say in the decision.

Taylor said, “It’s a simple application. We won’t know anything until mid-April. We really had hoped to use the planning document as a guiding document for our results back to you,” Taylor said. “It’s a good opportunity to look at economic development county-wide in a strategic way.”

She said it would be a county-wide plan but it would likely look at individual communities as well. “In a perfect world we’d have a document that would work with each town’s master plan and target specific areas.”

As for implementing ideas that might come out of the plan, Taylor said there is an option of asking voters to approve a quarter of a cent sales tax for economic development, which would provide the county an estimated $250,000.

“The first step is to get the planning grant,” Taylor said.

She said Basin was the first council she has had a chance to meet with and ask for support.

Councilor Heath Hopkin said he would like to know what the other communities think, adding, “I’m not in favor because other groups seemed to favor some towns over others and didn’t do anything for us.”

Taylor said, “We don’t have that baggage. We can’t prove ourselves unless you let us.”

In addressing a question from Lyle King, Taylor said if not all the communities were able to support the grant match they would have to take a step back and consider options before applying for the grant.

King also asked if the towns would be involved in selection of the consultants and Taylor said the request for consultants would be reviewed by each council.

As for the exact scope of work, Taylor said she had some of it “in my head.”

King asked how the town would fund their portion of the match. Kania said if it has to be funded in this fiscal year then they would have to use some of the fifth-cent sales tax.

Councilor Dave Cooper then moved to support the grant application and fund up to $1,935 for the match, on the condition that the other communities support the grant as well.

In seconding the motion, King said, “I’ll second but I have to express my reservations. This is reminiscent of the sixth penny — we have to make a quick decision. We’re taking your word for it that we’re not just flushing money down.”

Taylor said there would be time to withdraw after the grant is submitted to the WBC. “I understand your reservations and understand we’re all new to each other.”

The motion was approved unanimously.