(Gillette, Wyo.) "It could have been avoided." That's according to Mayor Carter-King in regards to confusion about the Joint Powers Fire Board negotiations, which are still ongoing. Yesterday at a press conference with the mayor, city administrator, and city council, issues with the timetable
for the current agreement were brought up. It's part of the overall
struggle between the county and the city to try and balance
responsibilities for not just the fire department, but the recycling and
landfill programs and beyond.
"It's been a tough budget already and we really haven't even gotten to the
meat of it," said Mayor Carter-King. "Even just talking about what our
department has to cut is a strain for everyone."
The letter of intent issued by the county to terminate the Fire Board
seemed to have surprised city officials.
"If there were concerns about a time frame, and about binding issues with
negotiating that the agreement supposedly pulled out, it was unbeknownst to
the city," said City Administrator Carter Napier. "It was certainly
unbeknownst that a letter was coming. Had we received a call about the
meeting that took place on this topic, I think the conversation would have
been a lot different."
The letter was a formality to extend negotiations until June 30th.
According to the county, the original agreement does not provide the option
for a verbal commitment to continue negotiations, it had to be in writing,
in the form of the termination letter.
"Though some may believe this matter could have been handled at a meeting
that day, this was, in fact, not feasible," said Commissioner Christensen
in a statement to County 17.
The Commissioners discussed their options and voted on the matter during
their Thursday Morning Workshop on March 31, 2016. The Thursday Morning
Workshops are public meetings, open to everyone. Neither the Town of
Wright, the City of Gillette, or the Joint Powers Fire Board were
"It's been a number of years since [the agreement] was looked at,"
Commissioner Shober told County 17 today. "It honestly has to change. There
are a number of issues that we can't continue to fund at the 80 / 20 rate
Both city and county hope to reach a new arrangement that is fair to
everyone. The final deadline for negotiations is June 30th. There are
meetings scheduled next week with the City of Wright and the Fire
Department to continue covering the topic of the Fire Board, as well as
other issues. Final decisions are not expected to be reached at that time,
"No matter the hurt feelings, the city council will always meet with
whatever entity we need to," added the Mayor.