Casper Council Set To Approve Budget Next Week; Turns Down Last-Minute Request For Proposed Cuts
Casper City Council on Tuesday informally agreed again to not ask the city's staff for a last-minute revisit of the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Vice Mayor Ray Pacheco, who was filling in for Mayor Kenyne Humphrey, said city staff has spent hundreds of hours working on the budget, and the new City Manager Carter Napier will go over it when he arrives later this month.
Pacheco acknowledged the concerns if the economic downturn persists in central Wyoming.
"I get people are nervous about it," he said.
"But I also believe they (city staff) did the best that they could with the circumstances involved, and we have to recognize that," Pacheco said. "We need to pass this budget and then look at it when Carter gets here to say, 'we have some concerns, how do we need to do this?' I think that's the prudent and pragmatic approach right now. I get people are worried about it."
The proposed $129.2 million budget decided late last month anticipates a $3 million decrease in general fund revenues and will be balanced by drawing down $5 million from the city's savings.
Since early 2015, the city has saved millions of dollars and cut its work force from 563 to 500.
But some council members, especially newly appointed Dallas Laird, wanted to see options including budgets with 5 percent, 10 percent and 15 percent reductions.
Laird raised that question again Tuesday, saying he was still uncomfortable with the proposed budget which council is set to approve next week. He wanted city staff to again draft alternative budgets.
"I don't want to vote 'yes' for this budget, because I still think there's stuff that can be cut out of it," he said.
But Shawn Johnson and Amanda Huckabay urged its passage, saying it can be amended later.
And Bob Hopkins said the budget is balanced and adjustments can be made.
"We used some of our savings to balance the budget, so it is a balanced budget," Hopkins said. "To imply we're robbing Peter to pay Paul is incorrect. Every business has years when you may have to go to the bank; you have to borrow money to exist. Well, it turns out we've got a pretty darned good savings account to the tune of 140-some months."