Casper Council Stressed Importance of One-Cent Funding During Budget Discussion
At the Casper City Council meeting on Tuesday, the council spent the evening discussing the intricacies of the upcoming budget that they will soon be voting on.
Of specific note, several councilmembers wanted to stress the importance of the use that one-cent funding has had in keeping budgets afloat and reducing the cost to the community for the cost of water and sewer.
The council also heard about the importance of various subsidies that the city provides to places like ice rinks, the recreation center, the Hogadon Basin Ski Area, and the various pools across the city, and the benefits they provide to the community.
City manager Carter Napier said that for something like the water distribution fund if it continued to have one-cent funding, the fund would have almost $4 million at the end of the fiscal year 2023, but without one-cent, that number would drop to a little over $1.4 million.
Without that funding, based on projections by the city, the water fund would run out of money by 2026, requiring the city to increase rates to compensate, or risk not being able to replace pipes or pay for water treatment.
Councilmember Bruce Knell said that when the city provides information on the importance of one-cent funding, that kind of outlook should also be included.
"That's the kind of information that needs to be put out in the one-cent stuff," Knell said. "If people don't understand that, and their ideology is 'well if we don't pass the one-cent, then they're just going to jack our rates.' Well the reality is we don't have a choice, or you're not going to have water to drink, it's pretty simple."
The council was also provided with the various capital projects that the city hopes to complete over the next fiscal year, which would amount to a little over $41 million for a variety of projects ranging from $16,000 to the Ice Arena CIA concession oven replacement, to $1,040,000 for Westridge improvements.
While Napier said that council members can come back in the future if there are projects they want to cut, Mayor Ray Pacheco said that the council shouldn't focus on cutting smaller projects.
"I'd also make the recommendation that if you're looking at stuff and you're seeing something for $30,000 and you're like, we need to cut that, we're talking big millions and millions of dollars," Pacheco said. "For me, cause I've been done these before and other councils have sat and said we've got to cut this $25,000 here and cut this $25,000 here, and in the scheme of it like you said is a drop in the bucket. But if we're looking at cutting million, I do agree with Carter, because we've been down the road here's what it looks like when you cut this. So we've got to balance that with reality, we've got to figure out the common sense of cutting certain things that will have an impact on the budget if that's what we want to try to do."