The Gillette City Council has agreed to increase its funding for Cam-plex to help hire seven new positions, but not without some trepidation, including worries about breaching the current joint powers agreement.
The city council held a special meeting Friday to discuss the Cam-plex funding.
Just before the meeting, the city received a letter from County Commission chair Colleen Faber, where she wrote that if the city chooses to fund Cam-plex at a higher level, “the county will not consider those additional funding dollars to be construed as a breach of the (joint powers agreement), nor is the county in any way asking the city to fund more than their share.”
In April, the city and county met with the Campbell County Public Land Board to go over Cam-plex’s proposed budget, which included a request for seven new positions:
- Human resources/risk manager: $99,189
- Grounds technician: $89,528
- Community engagement director: $136,718
- Sales and events coordinator: $89,528
- Event coordinator: $89,528
- Technical coordinator: $89,528
- Sales and events administrative assistant: $81,873
The county met at the beginning of last week to talk about Cam-plex funding, and they said they’d be willing to fund all seven new positions at a 60-40 split.
Friday, the city ended up going with an 80-20 split on the grounds technician and community engagement director, and a 60-40 split on the other five positions, but after some lengthy discussion.
Right now, the county pays for 80% of Cam-plex’s operating budget, and the city takes care of the remaining 20%, which is lined out in a joint powers agreement.
If the county and city fund the grounds technician and the community engagement director at 80-20 and the other five positions 60-40, that will cost the city an additional $89,929 more when compared to funding all seven at 80-20.
If the county and city were to fund all seven positions at a 60-40 split, the city would roughly pay an additional $135,000.
Mayor Shay Lundvall said the city can stick with the agreement and fund 20%. While that would leave Cam-plex short, the city would be fulfilling its obligation.
“What happens on the other side of that, we’re not in control of that,” he said.
Councilwoman Trish Simonson said she worried about breaking from the joint powers agreement. There isn’t much point in having an agreement if the city is going to deviate from it, she said.
She said she preferred to fund the seven positions at 80-20, then begin talking about changing the percentage next year.
Brown said the agreement states that participating agencies, in this case the city and county, “shall provide funding” for Cam-plex operations at the 80-20 level. Some might interpret the word “shall” as being mandatory, he said, meaning any funding that is not at that level is a breach of the agreement.
Councilman Jim West said if the city sticks with the joint powers agreement and holds the line at 80-20, “then Cam-plex doesn’t get the positions they need, which I think would be detrimental.”
“The games we play are silly. You can take percentages out, you can put percentages in,” he said. “I would suggest we do what we need to do on our end to make sure those positions get funded, and we have a year to negotiate a new JPA.”
Councilwoman Heidi Gross said she’s “flabbergasted” that the county is making the city and land board “jump through these hoops when the county’s assessed valuation has been projected to come in at $5.3 billion this year, the highest it’s been in several years.
While that is the projection, it has not been finalized, and won’t be until mid- to late June.
Commissioner Kelley McCreery said if it were up to him, “I wouldn’t let this stop us, the county would make up the difference,” but noted that it’s not up to him. Rather, it’s whatever the majority of the commission decides.
“I thought the commissioners could’ve handled this a little better months and months ago,” he said. “This isn’t a surprise, we’ve heard this for quite a while.”
The county has scheduled a special meeting for 2 p.m. Monday to discuss its budget, including the Cam-plex funding.
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