From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 30 - October 20, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Equalization raised again

by Cat Urbigkit

Sublette County School District No. 1 Superintendent Dr.Charles Grove and business manager Vern McAdams spoke with county commissioners Tuesday, Oct. 18, about the creation of a joint powers board for the construction of an aquatic center in Pinedale. The commission and district no. 1 officials had discussed the issue earlier this year, but progress fell by the wayside when attorneys for both the county and the district left their positions: district attorney Gerald Mason passed away, while county attorney Van Graham left office and moved from the county.

The joint powers board will consist of three members of the school board, and one each from the Pinedale Town Council and Sublette County Commission.

Grove said the estimated cost of the center is $12 million.

Sublette County Commissioner John Linn questioned why the county should be involved in the joint powers board, adding that he’s troubled with No. 1’s reluctance to equalize the school districts in the county.

“That issue needs to be addressed,” Linn said.

Grove said that equalizing the two school districts is a separate issue. He acknowledged that there is a “significant” difference in funding between the two, but suggested that the districts’ ability to continue to receive recapture money is limited.

Grove said that the purpose of creating a joint powers board would be to get into a position where money wouldn’t have to be sent back to the state.

He said that recapture money from No. 1 could be transferred to the joint powers board to create a $3-5 million reserve account that wouldn’t be sent back to the state.

Grove cast doubt on how long the districts will be able to keep recapture money.

“We’re really anticipating that will go away shortly,” Groves said.

Linn suggested that No. 1 may be legitimizing the arguments made by those wanting to eliminate recapture payments, that some districts are very rich and refuse to share their wealth with other school districts.

“But that’s another issue,” Grove said. “It’s not related to this at all.”

Linn responded, “Well, in my mind it is.”

County Commissioner Bill Cramer said the tax money at issue has already been collected, “so you can’t go back and equalize that.”

Commission Chair Betty Fear told Grove that she hopes that the No. 1 board would be willing to sit down and talk with No. 9 board members about equalization.

Grove pointed out that even though there is a significant disparity between the districts, both districts are benefiting from excessre capture money.

The commission agreed to have the county attorney examine the proposed joint powers agreement.

“We’d like to get that set up as soon as we can,” Grove said.

Cramer broached another subject with Grove, suggesting that the district sell the school lot across from the Pinedale Library to the county. Grove said that while the property will never be used for school purposes, plans are underway for use of the lot for recreational purposes.

Cramer said the land is very valuable because of its close proximity to the courthouse.

“Parking is a premium thing in the town,” Cramer said, suggesting that if the district preferred, the county could trade some property with the district.

Grove said he would take the matter up with the district’s board.

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