Temp planner to stay longer

Teton County commissioners voted Aug. 20 to end a contract with the county’s temporary planning director, announcing that a permanent hire had been found. But the candidate backed out soon afterward.

On Tuesday commissioners voted to instead extend Keith Sbiral’s term as interim planning director through Nov. 1.

Sbiral was hired July 29. His term was supposed to end Sept. 27, per the original contract.

The planning director position has been vacant since Oct. 1, when Tyler Sinclair — formerly the joint town and county planning director — departed to focus solely on planning for the town of Jackson.

Since then, Teton County has had an internal interim director and has hired three temporary planning directors through GovTemps, a national recruiting and interim staffing firm.

At a rate of $84 an hour, the county spent $107,764 as of Aug. 20 on the contracts, according to the County Clerk’s Office.

The position oversees the department’s staff and services, like land use, development permits, long-range planning, building permits and inspections, and zoning enforcement.

“Staff will be positively impacted by the stability and capacity provided by the extended term of an interim director,” a staff report said.

—Allie Gross

County funds energy audits

The county is taking a step forward in assessing its own energy consumption.

At a meeting Tuesday the Teton County Board of County Commissioners approved funding for an audit to monitor energy usage at county facilities like the jail and emergency operations center. The goal is to help prioritize county energy conservation projects.

Tech software corporation Dude Solutions will lead the audit, which is expected to cost $25,754. The funding for the project comes from the county’s Energy Mitigation Program, which collects fees from developers to offset energy use.

The facility condition assessments give the county information about building life cycles and recurring maintenance costs but do not look at each building’s energy savings components.

Along with the audits, commissioners also approved $2,020 for a two-month subscription to the software necessary to track county buildings’ historic utility bill data.

Once this round of energy audits is complete, a total of 30 county buildings will be Energy Star rated, a staff report said. Energy Star provides a benchmark rating of a building from 1 to 100 that is used to compare the building’s energy performance against similar buildings in comparable environments.

—Leonor Grave

Town forgoes paid parking

Paid parking is off the table for now in Jackson after elected officials chose to move ahead with a more nuanced plan for improving congestion and parking availability downtown.

After a year of working with consultants to develop ways to stop employees from hogging prime parking spaces, the Town Council settled on a few. They include converting the Home Ranch parking lot to three-hour parking, converting the Taxi2Fly spaces in the parking garage to regular parking and requiring drivers to move their cars to a different block after reaching the limit.

One overarching goal is to bring parking occupancy downtown to below 85 percent, the trigger point at which consultants said the council should implement paid parking. At some points in peak tourist season, Jackson already passes that threshold.

Paid parking may still be on the distant horizon, but if those incremental steps help the situation enough in the next couple of years, it may prove unnecessary. That would be welcome news to many in the business community, who have opposed paid parking out of fear it would push customers away.

Town staff will finalize the plan for the council to approve one last time in the coming weeks. After that the town will collect data on parking each year after it rolls out the first set of policy adjustments, watching to see whether they deliver the desired results.

—Cody Cottier

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063 or county@jhnewsandguide.com.

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.