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Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne)
CHEYENNE — Voters approved the majority of propositions on the sixth-penny sales tax special election ballot Tuesday, but rejected two that bundled large-scale amenities in Cheyenne with infrastructure and public safety projects in small towns and rural parts of Laramie County.
Propositions 6 and 7 both failed but were relatively close in an election where support for most propositions was tight across the board.
Just less than $12 million in Proposition 6 would have gone to infrastructure projects in Albin, Burns, Pine Bluffs and rural parts of Laramie County, but the option also included a multipurpose indoor turf facility for Cheyenne. Proposition 7 would have put $14.87 million toward more infrastructure projects in those towns and Laramie County, as well as a gymnasium in Cheyenne.
While Laramie County voter Bibi Atwell wanted to support much-needed projects for small towns, she said the recreation facilities caused her to vote against both measures.
"There's a lot of things I think they should have had separated," Atwell said.
Barbara Metcalf said more reporting in the media on the needs of smaller towns would have helped her make decisions about proposals she was uncertain about.
"It'd be nice to see coverage on how bad does Cheyenne need this, how bad does Burns need that, then you can see how it is," she said. "When they tie in different things, it just doesn't work, and it will more than likely get voted down."
City recreation facilities and projects were approved by voters in propositions 5 and 8 for a Greenway expansion and the purchase of land for a community park on Cheyenne's developing east side. Both measures included infrastructure and other necessities for Laramie County's small towns. Of the nine on Tuesday's ballot, Proposition 5 had the widest margin of voter approval at 63 percent. Proposition 8 saw a tighter margin, with just more than 51 percent of voters supporting the tax.
Parks and Recreation Interim Director Jason Sanchez said the Greenway and east side park land purchase would serve Cheyenne well.
"I feel we live in a great community that understands the value of investing in itself," he said. "For the two that didn't pass, we'll continue to provide services and programs we can with the facilities we have, and look forward to maybe introducing those again in the future."
Also included in the $11.97 million for Proposition 5 was the new Archer Complex fire station for Laramie County Fire District No. 1. To be located across from the new Archer Multipurpose Facility in eastern Laramie County, Laramie County Fire District No. 1 Chief Darrick Mittlestadt said the station should improve fire, ambulance and sheriff response times in the area. Additionally, he said it could lower homeowner insurance premiums for those in Laramie County Fire District No. 1.
"It's a huge win for everyone," Mittlestadt said.
Public safety should also see enhancements with voters' approval of Proposition 9, which calls for a new station for Laramie County Fire District No. 2, as well as an upgrade to emergency communications. In addition to an office planned for sheriff's deputies at the new Archer Complex fire station, Laramie County Sheriff Danny Glick said the updated system should increase response times.
"(911 systems) are such a vital part of what we do," Glick said. "I think it was obviously a great vote."
Proposition 9 - approved by a comfortable margin at more than 58 percent - also included funding for West Edge infrastructure and enrichment. Cheyenne City Council President Dicky Shanor said approving the funding will help with efforts to improve the West Edge. Disagreements with how to approach those efforts have become increasingly complicated in recent months.
"I think the West Edge one is really critical right now due to the complications we've had with figuring out drainage solutions that are up for consideration, and have been for some time,"
Shanor said. "To have the funds to augment that situation over there will be helpful."
Joel Funkis the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's state government reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @jmacfunk.
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