ARCHIVED  February 21, 2003

Wyoming Business: Gov. Freudenthal drops bombshells on Wyoming

CHEYENNE — Just four days into his term, new Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal returned “home” to a Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce luncheon with a couple of bombshells.

Freudenthal said he will ask the Legislature to re-enact a statewide property tax to fund school construction and revealed that, oh yes, the state’s budget surplus has evaporated.

“One thing they don’t tell you on the campaign trail is that budget estimates can be wrong,” he told chamber members. “I learned today something I think we kind of expected — that there is no budget surplus.”

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State revenue estimators actually are forecasting a modest surplus on paper, but it’s being eaten up by demands. The message he’s getting, Freudenthal said, is “Oh, by the way, Governor, you’re broke.”

“But we’ll get through it,” he said. “I remind myself that I made promises to get things done in four years, not in 40 days. We’ll have to be relatively modest in expectations in terms of what I submit to the Legislature, because unlike Washington, D.C., the Legislature can’t print money.”

Freudenthal also said he believes the state can solve its school financing issues without great amounts of additional money, except for school construction. For that he will advocate re-enacting the statewide property tax.

He allowed that while a tax proposal might not be popular, it is critical if the state is going to come to grips with providing the estimated $600 million to $800 million needed for school construction.

Business Council stays put

CHEYENNE — Just days before signing an agreement to move from one downtown office building to another, the Wyoming Business Council has decided to stay put, at least until after the Legislature’s 2004 Budget Session.

The state’s economic-development arm was “pretty close” to signing a contract last month to move from its current quarters in the historic Becker Building to the long-vacant Hynds Building when its lease was up June 30. But the WBC changed its mind, according to Tucker Fagan, the agency’s CEO.

“We’ve done a lot of analysis on the most cost-efficient things for the Business Council, and we’re going to stay in the Becker,” Fagan said, adding that the agency will wait until after the 2004 Budget Session to see if there are program or personnel expansions for the Business Council. “At that time, we’ll be better-positioned to look at whether we should move to another building,” he said.

One possible deal breaker was speculation that new Gov. Dave Freudenthal might push for separating the Tourism Division from the Business Council. During his campaign, Freudenthal also advocated doing away with the Wyoming Energy Commission and folding its activities into the Business Council.

Jerry Olson’s legacy remains

CHEYENNE — Cheyenne, Northern Colorado and all of Wyoming lost a good friend Jan. 19 with the death of Cheyenne airport manager Jerry Olson.

Olson was a tireless promoter of better air service throughout the region and throughout the nation. At the time of his death, Olson was chairman of the American Association of Airport Executives.

In Cheyenne, Olson is remembered for his economic-development efforts. He converted unused buildings and land around the perimeter of the airport into a variety of retail businesses, offices and industries, including Great Lakes Aviation.

Jerry was always looking ahead and the sky was the limit. Whether it was depot preservation or airport improvement, he always had something in the works, including his most recent dream of a championship golf course and a hotel convention center around an expanded main runway.

Hitching Post team grows

CHEYENNE — Paul A. Smith, president and owner of the Hitching Post Inn Resort and Conference Center, has named Nickolas S. Joannides as the new vice president and general manager.

“This is not a buyout, it is the beginning of a partnership,” Smith said. “We have been successful for three generations and Nick will carry us through a fourth. I look forward to working with Nick through a lasting partnership that will assure the future of the Hitching Post Inn.”

Like Smith, Joannides has deep roots in the hospitality industry. He began his career as a bus person in a Holiday Inn near his birthplace in Moline, Ill. After getting a degree in hospitality management from William Penn University, he managed Six Continents Hotels properties in all four continental time zones. His resume includes the opening of the largest “prototype” Holiday Inn Resort in the country near Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

Joannides, son of Halladay Motors owner Tim Joannides, said he is excited to carry on the Smith family’s rich traditions at the Hitching Post. “At the same time, I look forward to sharing new ideas and growing this ?Hospitality Treasure in the West’ into the hotel of which Cheyenne and Wyoming residents alike can be proud,” he said.

CHEYENNE — Just four days into his term, new Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal returned “home” to a Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce luncheon with a couple of bombshells.

Freudenthal said he will ask the Legislature to re-enact a statewide property tax to fund school construction and revealed that, oh yes, the state’s budget surplus has evaporated.

“One thing they don’t tell you on the campaign trail is that budget estimates can be wrong,” he told chamber members. “I learned today something I think we kind of expected — that there is no budget surplus.”

State revenue estimators actually are forecasting a modest surplus…

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