Johnson County Hosts Workshop On DeSmet Lease

Johnson County Hosts Workshop On DeSmet Lease

The Johnson County Commissioners held a public workshop on Wednesday to discuss the proposed lease of water in Lake DeSmet by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The commissioners had rejected a revised lease agreement at their last meeting August 7, but decided to have another round of discussions with the various parties invovled.

Jim Hicks, who defeated Commission Chair Smokey Wildeman in the primary election, brought some information and scenarios he compiled to show that the lease, at least in its present form, is do-able and could benefit the counties and the LDCC.

Hicks' suggestions for conditions of the lease, which would require compromise on both sides, are listed at the end of this story below.

A number of people spoke both in favor of and against the lease, and the county commissioners listened to all sides, thanking everyone for the opportunity to hear more about where they stand on the issue. The commissioners did not make a decision at the workshop, but deferred to their meeting next week as to whether they will stand firm on their earlier decision to reject the lease, or reverse their decision and accept it.

Jim Hicks' suggestions:

1. Monies for the lease by Wyoming Game and Fish Department be deposited in accounts controlled by the County Treasurers of Sheridan and Johnson Counties on a 45%/55% basis.

2. A committee of one commissioner from Sheridan County, one commissioner from Johnson County, along with the County Clerks and County Treasurers organize an accounting system to handle all monies from sales of water or any other source conducted or arranged by the Lake DeSmet Counties Coalition or their employees or agents. Such account can be distributed to the respective county treasurers on a regular basis as arranged by this committee and these accounts should be designated for activities of the LDCC.

3. County Commissioners and members of the LDCC formally acknowledge the Lake DeSmet Coalition can operate only with funds annually appropriated and budgeted by the Boards of County Commissioners of the two counties. This will not exclude grants or loans from the Wyoming Water Development Commission or similar agencies. Application for such funds requires pre-pproval by the Boards of county Commissioners. All previous financial contracts or obligations of the LDCC would have to be reviewed in this process.

4. A semi-annual (or annual) open meeting will be established for the Boards of Commissioners of the two counties to review general activities and goals of the LDCC. The location of the meetings can alternate between the two counties. Unless mutually agreed by the commissions, only appointed members of the LDCC will be asked to directly participate (not staff members or legal advisors). The meetings will be open to the public.

5. Quarterly executive summaries, including financial activities, will be submitted by the LDCC to the Boards of Commissioners.

Again, these were only suggestions made by Hicks to try to reach common ground between the counties and the coalition.

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