Commissioners Deliver Positive State of County Address

Johnson COunty Commission Chair Delbert Eitel at the 2014 State of the County Address.
Johnson COunty Commission Chair Delbert Eitel at the 2014 State of the County Address.

The annual State of the County Address was given by the County Commissioners who each gave short reports ranging from the outlook for revenue to new projects at the fairgrounds to the finalization of the lease for water rights in Lake DeSmet to the Game and Fish Department.

The commissioners spoke at a well-attended luncheon Wednesday in Buffalo.

Commission Chair Delbert Eitel kicked off the address, saying the assessed value in the county has been in decline in recent years but based on inquiries to the county, this year may see an increase in revenue from mineral production. Oil and uranium are both expected to see improvement in production within the county.

The county also received some good news from Governor Matt Mead, according to Eitel.

Commissioner John Gibbs gave an overview of the BLM's recently drafted Resource Management Plan and how it may affect the county.
He touched on split estate mineral rights and gave an update on the fairgrounds and possible future projects there, such as a secondary arena that could be located on the old King property.
He discussed "Payments in Lieu of Taxes" (or PILT) that are Federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable Federal lands within their boundaries. Those payments to the county have dropped from 2012 to 2013 and are expected to drop again in 2014.
He wrapped by discussing upcoming taxi lane and water line projects at the airport and a coming land swap to facilitate a re-alignment of the main runway.

Finally, “newbie” Jim Hicks, as he called himself, discussed the recent changes at Lake DeSmet and the coming finalization of the lease with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department that is expected to be approved in March.
He touched on the library expansion and the proposed new recreation center, which one or both may end up on the November ballot for approval of a sixth-penny sales tax. He urged those attending to back both projects as both are needed facilities in the community.
He closed by saying county government is in good hands and by praising the other commissioners and county employees.

The State of the City Address will be given at next month's Chamber Luncheon.

Carrol Realty
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