A look ahead

Grace Moore photo
Councilman Owen Mathews.
Grace Moore photos
The location for the Goshen Street Water Project set to begin this year.
Councilman Mathews hopes to see the process of moving Town Hall into the MTC begin in 2018.

The Town of Moorcroft has two large projects on the agenda for 2018, says Councilman Owen Mathews: water/sewer repairs and rebuilding the lagoon.

“The Goshen Street Water Project should be going to bid before too long, which is water and sewer line repairs. That will leave us with, I think, one major water project and some small stuff to tie up and we’ll have got through everything from the last ten years,” Mathews says.

“We should also be looking at going to bid in spring for our lagoon rebuild project. We’re still waiting for a final determination from the Department of Environmental Quality on a waiver from having to do certain controls because of economic hardship.”

An economic hardship waiver does not mean the town will be able to avoid increasing its ammonia control, Mathews notes. Seeking a waiver is more about benefiting Moorcroft further down the road, when the requirements jump up again and would require the town to go to a mechanical plant.

With these two big projects underway, Mathews continues, the town would also like to re-permit its landfill to buy a little more time before Moorcroft must incur the expense of having to haul elsewhere. Mathews also says he would still like to see the county’s entities come together to find a county-wide solution.

“We have another 150 acres of land out there and would love to work it out to where we could have a regional facility. There’s no way any of us could do it on our own, there would have to be a waste district or a lot of grant money and, with the way things are at the state level, I don’t see the grant money for it coming through,” he says.

In the meantime, Moorcroft is looking to expand the amount of waste that can be put in the landfill. The last amendment bought five percent more room; this time, the town will seek a larger amendment.

“With that being said, I don’t anticipate us deciding to open it back up to anybody; come June, the contracts we have with Sundance and Victory will expire and it will just be the Town of Moorcroft’s garbage going in there for the remainder of that time,” he says.

Thanks to all the volunteers and the many hours that have been spent at the Moorcroft Town Center since it opened, Mathews feels it has come along well as a centerpiece for the town. He would like to see the council move ahead with transplanting town hall into the building in 2018.

“My timeline is, I think, more aggressive than everybody else’s,” he says. “I want to get some numbers and get us moved up there.”

Some of the issues that have been raised with the idea will solve themselves, Mathews believes. For example, the cost of utilities will be offset by no longer needing to pay utilities in the current building.

“Eliminate some of the management issues that have been brought up along the way and I personally think that, the more foot traffic we have in that building, the more appealing it’s going to be,” he says.

The council will also look at changing its pay structure, effective after the 2018 elections. At present, Mathews says, the mayor is at $1200 while council members receive just $75 per official meeting.

With Moorcroft’s council-mayor structure, he continues, there is a very similar expectation for all seated officials. The mayor has a few additional duties such as signing checks and follow-up.

“We’re going to look at decreasing the mayor’s pay and there was discussion about upping the council,” he says. “Someone had suggested $200 a month and taking the mayor’s pay down to $500 a month.”

The change would only affect new council members; seated councilmen would remain on the current pay structure until the end of their term.

At the request of citizens, Moorcroft will also look at allowing chickens within city limits. It’s becoming a popular idea again, says Mathews, partly thanks to the advent of Food Freedom.

“I think there’s a way that we can let people do it where it isn’t a nuisance, it’s easy to police and people have that opportunity,” he says.

Overall, Mathews is hoping for a successful year with business running smoothly and less conflict.

“Mistakes have been made along the way, we’ve acknowledged that there have been mistakes, so let’s just make it the best we can and do the best we can by the people we represent,” he nods.