From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 23 - September 4, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Ruland and Schmidt rumble commission over town ruckus

by Cat Urbigkit

Sublette County Sheriff Hank Ruland and Undersheriff Henry Schmidt made an unscheduled visit to the Sublette County Commission meeting Tuesday morning to arm the commission with statistics to use in response to negative comments made recently by the Pinedale Town Council.

The issue involves water drainage problems caused by the county raising the road surfaces in the Shelter Park area. County Road Superintendent Dan Holgate had met with Pinedale Town Council attorney Ed Wood to resolve the issue. Holgate reported he had believed the issue had been taken care of until the newspapers reported that the Pinedale Town Council intended to write a letter to the commission pointing out that any problems in the area are the county's responsibility, and not the town's. Town council members also talked about not spending town money to fix a problem caused by the county.

Ruland and Schmidt said they thought it would be appropriate to point out that the county provides metro law-enforcement coverage to the towns under a special contractual arrangement.

Items not included in that budget are the cost for investigations, search and rescue, emergency response, detention and communications, Schmidt said. He added that the towns don't pay overtime, holiday pay, worker's compensation, social security, federal taxes or insurance, because these are items covered by the county.

Schmidt and Ruland explained that the county's three incorporated towns pay for a total of five officers, with Pinedale paying for about two-and-one-half officer positions, while the county pays for an additional 10 officers.

Pinedale's contract totals about $225,690, while the cost to provide all these law-enforcement services is more like $800,000, according to Schmidt.

It doesn't cost the towns the higher amount because the commission has chosen to exclude certain services from the towns' burden.

Schmidt said that the towns are actually paying about one-fourth the cost to provide full law-enforcement services. The total cost to the town of Pinedale in the last nine years would have been closer to $5 million had the exclusions been applied to the contracts, Schmidt said, compared to about $2 million each for Marbleton and Big Piney.

"It's a significant savings," Ruland said.

The commission thanked Ruland and Schmidt for pointing out the financial aspect to them.

Commissioner Betty Fear said there does seem to be some conflict. "It seems like we can't cooperate for some reason."

Ruland suggested before people "start slamming" others, "they ought to do the math first, before they start doing that."

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