Lovell Inc. Executive Director Sue Taylor came to the commissioners Tuesday to finalize an administrative agreement for an economic planning grant that has been applied for through the Wyoming Business Council.
The county is the governing agency that will administer and apply for the grant, but Lovell Inc. has spearheaded the project and has financial commitments from three of the nine municipalities to help with matching funds for the grant.
Taylor said she spoke with WBC Northwest Regional Director Leah Bruscino, who said the WBC is supportive of the project. However, Taylor said, a conference call with WBC staff members brought forth questions they had from the application, the need for an administrative agreement with the county, and memorandum of understanding agreements (MOUs) with the communities providing the matches.
Regarding the administrative agreement, Chairman Jerry Ewen said he was uncomfortable having the county bill the municipalities for their part of the match for the economic development planning grant. Taylor said she was hoping the county would handle all the financial aspects of the grant, but she can have Lovell Inc. bill the towns and the county can bill Lovell Inc. for the matching portion of the grant.
Taylor said she has answered several of the questions the WBC had but wanted assistance on a few items. She said the WBC wants more specifics on how the planning grant would help with the north-south divide in the county. Taylor said the mayors meeting monthly since August 2011 has helped.
Commissioner Keith Grant said the consensus block grant has brought the communities and special districts together. He said the sheriff has joined the north and south search and rescue units together as one unit, including in the budget process.
Taylor said, “There needs to be a shift in the way we think and try and eliminate north and south.”
Regarding the agreements with each community, Taylor said with a quick timeline, having to have information and agreements back to the WBC by Feb. 4, she will be unable to attend the council meetings. She said she hopes to have a draft agreement ready for the Jan. 24 mayors meeting for their review and to take to their councils.
The WBC staff also asked if the plan would include a marketing component and she said yes but is asking for assistance from Bruscino to assist her on expanding her answer for this question.
Ewen asked if there could be a master list of businesses in Big Horn County. He said he thinks it would be beneficial.
Taylor said she didn’t know if it’s something they would include because her concern is that “once you make a list it’s outdated.”
She said she’s going to have one of her Experience Works employees to start an inventory of available property. She said likely if they decide to build a business master list it would be done by staff members.
The commissioners moved to allow Chairman Ewen to sign the county’s administrative agreement after it is approved by County Attorney Michelle Burns.
Michelle Burns said she has suggested changes that would be emailed to Taylor. The commissioners approved a motion to sign the agreement upon approval by Burns. She said she had a few minor changes and would like to see the final agreement before signing off on it.
After the motion, Commissioner Grant asked if the county could seek civil case assistance if Burns and her staff are too busy with criminal cases. Ewen said departments would need to bring the request to the commissioners after first contacting Burns’ office about handling a civil matter.
By KARLA POMEROY