By: Pete Obermueller, WCCA Executive Director
Summer always seems to come crashing down around me every year. I had grand designs of multiple pack trips, fishing, and actually improving my golf game for once. I hope you have been more successful than I enjoying these short but beautiful summers in Wyoming. No matter how much you pack in, they always seem to slip away too fast.
The middle of the summer is also the end of the fiscal year for the counties and the WCCA. For counties, the difficulty of budgeting in the face of significantly declining revenue is a stark reality. In the coming days your WCCA Board members will receive a survey to report on the final numbers of your FY17 budgets. As we move toward the fall and the legislative session, we must be vocal about those numbers and the difficult cuts you have implemented.
At the WCCA, the end of the year is a time for reflection and a renewed effort to provide you with the highest quality service, and a redoubled commitment to improving the counties’ position in whatever way possible. I’ve mentioned it before, but I want to link it here for your review, that the WCCA Board of Directors met last December to help outline a new Vision and Goals document for the Association. The Board set a Vision nothing short of being the best advocacy and education Association in Wyoming. What you will find at this link is part of the Board’s work product from that meeting, including the expectations the Board set for themselves, for WCCA members, and for me as your Executive Director. You will also find the first year action items document that we are striving to fully implement. These expectations and goals will be reviewed every year.
After the close of the legislative session your Association staff has been working on several major projects for the benefit of counties. Most of you are aware of the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative. If not, please be sure to read about it. I have said many times that I did not take this job to play small ball. Because of its members and partners, the WCCA’s potential is limitless. As your Executive Director, I will continue to dream up big solutions like the WPLI to long-running problems. As always, it is you and your Board members that set the course of this Association.
With the help of the great team in Teton County, we also successfully executed an excellently attended and well received meeting of the Western Interstate Region of the National Association of Counties. Your membership in the WCCA pays your dues to NACo and WIR as well. These organizations are working for you daily at the regional and national level. Our own Commissioner Bousman is currently the First Vice President of the Western Interstate Region. Don’t forget to make use of these tools by accessing their websites and engaging with their staff.
Over the spring and summer I have been travelling the state for several meetings of the legislature and to see many of you during your official meetings. So far I have been to 15 counties’ official meetings, and will see you in all 23 counties before the year is out. I have heard excellent ideas for communication improvements and plan to implement new tools to hear from all of you in the near future.
As for the legislature, I have been actively engaged on the task forces for special districts and digital privacy. Commissioner Vogelheim and Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese are ably representing counties on the special district task force, but look for a survey in the coming days regarding special districts. I also convened two conference calls representing small and big counties on the issue of digital privacy and the guidelines that Enterprise Technology Services was required to develop for local governments on digital privacy.
At the federal level, Gregory Cowan and I are advancing work to bolster county authority under the proposed BLM planning 2.0. The WCCA has been the tip of the spear on pushing the agency toward changes in the rule that not only halt any diminishment of your authority, but also increases it to the maximum extent possible. I was invited to testify in front of the House Committee on Natural Resources regarding Planning 2.0, which you can view here at the time mark of 28:58. I’m also very pleased to report that our official 2.0 comments developed by Gregory with his colleague in Nevada were used by multiple other entities, Associations, and Governors in their submissions as well. The WCCA continues to be a respected leader on public lands issues.
Finally, we successfully executed the purchase of the office building at 408 West 23rd Street in Cheyenne, and the sale of the house at 409 West 24th Street. This establishes a long term office for the Association that will serve you well long into the future as you grow your Association into the powerhouse it is destined to be. The office has plenty of work space and can be comfortably used as a home base for you when you travel to Cheyenne for SLIB meetings or any other time. This is your office...come use it.
As always, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call me for any reason whatsoever. And please find time to enjoy the rest of this summer before the snow flies again, all too soon.