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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Are city leaders trying to snow you on the land swap to open up the Belvoir Ranch? It's a real possibility

When a city councilman told the audience recently that over the past few years there have been some bad things going on behind the scenes about the Belvoir Ranch, no one at a recent work session batted an eye. 
This is standard operating procedure when working on large issues: Trust city officials.
What could go wrong? 
The first thing that seems odd is the city attorney’s office started working out some of the bugs on
The Holy Grail of the city's planned land swap: access to the Big Hole.
the Dyno Nobel land deal – that could lead to a path to the Belvoir Ranch – just a few days before the work session. Add a couple of mayoral zingers like, “What does it really mean to make BOPU and Sanitation whole?” and “We are on a time crunch to get this done by Sept. 30," and I ask again: What could go wrong? 
Is there a reason for this rush? And are we going to take less than what we paid for the Belvoir just to get something done?
I’ve listened to auctioneers rattle numbers slower than what the staff threw at the City Council during their work session. 
Take this blizzard of facts:
Number of wind turbines (proposed) on City property: 74 
Each turbine's megawatt (MW) installed capacity: 2.82 MW
Total city installed capacity: 208.68 MW
City's installed capacity – conservatively rounded down, 200 MW
The City of Cheyenne will receive a one-time payment of: $2,500 per MW (50 percent due at commencement of construction and 50 percent due at commercial operation)
Total: $500,000
Total one-time payment (based on 200 MW Capacity)
OPERATING FEES (from operations until the wind power facility is removed)
The city shall annually receive the greater of:
3.5 percent of Lessee's Gross Revenues until the 10-year anniversary; 4 percent from the 10th anniversary to 20th anniversary and 4.5 percent  
1) from the 20th anniversary to the expiration of lease agreement
2) The below calculation 
Base operating fee per calendar year installed: $5,000 per MW
Adjustment to CPI beginning August 2012 to May 2019: $558 CPI Index
            Total MW per calendar year with inflation adjustment: $5,558 per MW
$1.1116 million (Approximate total annual payment once construction is complete.)
If CPI goes up 2.0 percent annually, the base operating fee (by MW) will increase by $111 per MW, or the operating fee payment will increase annually by $22,000.
            In layman terms that means: “Marty, I'm sorry, but the only power source capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of electricity is a bolt of lightning.”
Or this:
“There is a split between agencies to warrant the Dyno Nobel sale, the negotiated purchase price of the Mariah property is $1.295 million. The appraised value of the land is $1.06 million. The difference between the appraised value ($1.06 million) and the amount Dyno Nobel negotiated to pay the owners of the property ($1.295 million) is $235,000.   
“If the purchase/land swap is approved by the governing body, the city and Dyno Nobel will split that difference, which will be $117,500 each. Then, if BOPU’s board approves, they will pay for half of the $117,500, or $58,750, and the city will pay $58,750.”
Oh yeah. There is no money in case the splash pad goes over budget.
In regards to Dyno Nobel’s deadline of Sept. 30, the understanding is Dyno Nobel is a publicly traded company and therefore must, per the Securities and Exchange Commission rules, file an earnings report after the end of the first three quarters of their fiscal year, which is Sept. 30. As these reports must include the company’s gross revenue, expenses, etc. it is a common practice for publicly traded companies to want to include all major financial activity in this report, so when they publish their earnings press releases they have all relevant information included. 
I bet you wished the city worked this hard for your interests. 
If all this mumbo jumbo hasn’t turned your mind to tapioca pudding, just wait. There’s more. 
This whole land sale, called the Mariah Development, is being heralded as a new gateway to the Belvoir Ranch and future recreation activities. Sad thing is, it isn’t. No one has figured out how to get to the south side of the railroad tracks to get to the Big Hole. 
I hate to break it to you, but this whole debacle is nothing but a shell game of moving money and smoke and mirrors. 
Whois really benefitting from this, and why? 
And what’s the rush? 
It’s not the city’s job to make Dyno Nobel’s stockholders happy but rather to defend the interests of the people of Cheyenne. 
Is the mayor benefiting personally from this? Witness the brouhaha over the truck she got to tool around in for Frontier Days. The possibility can’t be ignored.
Why is there no firm commitment from anyone to do the Belvoir gateway? Or to even assure that the swap will create it?
Why is no one talking about the lack of an agreement with the railroad?
No, it’s “throw a blizzard of facts” at the City Council and city residents, with the hope they all will go snow blind.
Here’s hoping the City Council does its due diligence on this. “Trust the administration” are three words that shouldn’t come up in reviewing this deal.
Those involved in all this couldn’t have picked a more suitable name for project than the Mariah development. To quote “Paint Your Wagon:” 

And now I'm lost, I'm oh so lost
Not even God can find me
Mariah, O, Mariah, They call the wind Mariah

Yep, the city of Cheyenne just may be throwing more of your tax dollars to the winds.

Richard Johnson is the former City Councilman from Ward 3 on Cheyenne’s east side. 

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