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April 20, 2010 3:51 am

West Park closer to ballot

Written by Tribune Staff

Decision could come today

A proposed $14.2 million capital facilities tax for upgrades to Cody's West Park Hospital is one step closer to being in the hands of voters.

The Cody City Council voted last week to put West Park's proposition to Park County voters in August, meaning that a yes vote from the Park County Commission today (Tuesday) would officially put the measure on the primary ballot.

Commissioners were scheduled to vote on the resolution this afternoon.

The Cody council's vote came after months of discussion, and after the West Park proposal dropped from an initial $49 million request. That number had included funding for required upgrades to the county's landfills — a capital facilities tax proposal that was subsequently put indefinitely on hold.

Cody council members commended the West Park board for their work and commitment to the project, which would expand and upgrade much of West Park's aging emergency departments.

“Voting for the resolution is not necessarily an endorsement of the project itself,” Mayor Nancy Tia Brown reminded the council before the unanimous vote at a Thursday work session.

Despite a unanimous vote, some councilmen continued to voice concern in putting the measure on the primary ballot instead of the general ballot in November, where, historically, turnout is greater.

West Park officials have said getting the project passed in the primary election rather than in the general would save between $1 million and $2 million.

Council President Sam Krone said he still would have preferred the general ballot, but voted for the resolution.
“I'm going to take you at your word that putting it on the earlier ballot, if it were approved, is going to save taxpayers money,” he said, adding earlier, “I'm hopeful this primary is going have a lot of voters to decide this.”

Councilman Charles Cloud, though voting yes, said he thought it was setting “a dangerous precedent” to have it on the primary.

With a proposition needing only the support of two of the three municipalities to get on the ballot — and Meeteetse having already OK'd the measure — Powell's support is not necessary. But after the Cody council's vote, West Park trustee Peggy Rohrbach said “it'd be great” to have Powell on board anyway. The Powell council, which had been waiting for Cody's decision before weighing in, was scheduled to vote on the measure Monday night.

Powell Mayor Scott Mangold attended the Cody council's work session on behalf of the Powell council but declined to state how he would vote on the West Park resolution.