The Town of Meeteetse is requesting more than $648,000 in funding for water and sewer projects. Town leaders are making this request through the American Rescue Plan Act, which Park County is in charge of managing. The county is receiving $5.67 million in stimulus funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meeteetse is only receiving $49,300.

Meeteetse Mayor J.W. Yetter said the project will facilitate two routes for the water transmission line into town. Currently, because of the geographic nature of the town, Meeteetse is split into two sides, making it only possible for water to come from one approach.

As a result, the southeast side of town, home to an undeveloped subdivision that Yetter said is now being developed, is faced with inadequate fire protection services.

The project would include removing a storage tank and water pump that will no longer be necessary.

Yetter said Meeteetse has paid $902,000 for these projects already. He said the town could start taking bids for the work with a guarantee of the county’s support.

Preliminary engineering work started on the project two years ago. Although an original pipeline was designed in a more direct route, that line took too steep a route and was deemed unfeasible in the long run. The new route is “somewhat” longer, Yetter said, and because of that and the additional construction materials it caused a $498,000 increase in the total project cost.

The town also experienced a $153,000 cost overrun due to supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ARPA rules allow for work like this under its funding guidelines but also specifically excludes matching-grant type projects. Although the commissioners expressed support for granting ARPA dollars for Meeteetse’s project, they stressed these funds have to be used for materials.

“It has to actually purchase product,” commissioner chairman Lee Livingston said.

The commissioners expressed an interest in funding materials costs for Meeteetse’s request on Oct. 5, but no representative from the town was present at their meeting to answer questions that day. Meeteetse has at least $1.4 million in materials costs, according to a document submitted to the county.

Livingston said he wants a guarantee from Meeteetse all of the necessary funding is in place and the work is moving forward before they approve paying for materials.

Local governments have until 2024 to decide what they will do with their allotted funds and until 2026 to spend them.

Commissioner Scott Mangold expressed an urgency to buy materials before costs rise even further, a trend that has been occurring over the last 18 months due to supply issues caused by the pandemic. Eric Wachob, an office manager for Engineering Associates, said in a letter to the Town of Meeteetse, the cost of PVC pipe has doubled or tripled in the last few months while other materials like aggregate and asphalt have seen modest increases.

He also said the work will set a positive example for healthy county growth.

“We keep talking about people moving out to the suburbs and taking up farmland,” he said, “To help out with infrastructure in one of our urban areas would show that we want to keep people in town.”

So far, the county has received the first half of its ARPA funding with the second half set to arrive next year.

To date, the county has committed about $1.5 million in ARPA funds.

“The pocketbook is dwindling fast,” commissioner Lloyd Thiel said.

The commissioners will continue discussing the Meeteetse proposal at their Oct. 19 meeting.

Still not officially approved is $1.5 million being considered for HVAC and humidifiers for the county buildings, a $500,000 donation to the Sheriff’s Office Charitable Foundation, and around $3 million for county sewer lagoon updates.

(1) comment

Jim Guelde

Once again, Meeteetse extends it’s hand (palm up) and asks the taxpayers to pick up the tab. What with all the taxpayer funded projects (two fire halls… Conservative District… Museums… Recreation District… City Building) in Meeteetse, maybe it’s time for the residents to pony up.

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