Sandoval Tapped As Next Casper Mayor; City Budget Issues Loom
Casper City Council unofficially named vice mayor Daniel Sandoval as the next mayor during a straw poll at a work session Tuesday.
While the vote is informal, council traditionally has selected the vice mayor as the new mayor and confirmed the selection with a formal vote at the first meeting of the new year on Jan. 5.
Sandoval will succeed Mayor Charlie Powell.
Council members also selected Steve Cathey to be vice mayor.
During the work session, council members heard from City Manager V.H. McDonald who said the city has received only two applications for the position that will be vacated by Ward I council member Robin Mundell on Jan. 5. The deadline to submit an application is Dec. 31.
McDonald also discussed some of the budget issues the city will be facing with the persistent low oil prices and the resulting impacts on especially sales tax revenues.
McDonald is asking department managers to look at overtime costs, and see if they can shift some overtime costs to comp time, he said.
Come spring, he will look at whether city parks and other properties need to be mowed as frequently.
And in view of last week's snowstorm, and the high costs of snow removal, the city may consider creating a fund for snow removal that would be separate from the regular budget, McDonald said.
Casper is in much better financial shape than most municipalities in the state, but it still will be hit by the state budget proposed by Gov. Matt Mead on Dec. 1, McDonald said. That budget proposal would allocate $90 million by a set formula to the counties, cities and towns. That amount marks a 50.8 percent decrease from $183 million, over the last biennium. The money can be used for operational expenses. It cannot be used for salaries or benefits in the cities, towns or counties.
Powell and other council members called for fiscal restraint. "This is going to be tough on everybody," Powell said.
Officials from Casper, the other municipalities in Natrona County, county commissioners and the Wyoming Medical Center will meet with legislators on Jan. 13 to discuss budget issues.
Council members also heard reports from leaders of the Self-Help Center, representatives of local business organizations, and Casper’s support services director Tracy Belser about a new city information service called “The Glance.”
The information service, scheduled to go online in January, would provide brief updates about significant traffic closures, major construction projects, ordinance issues, ongoing long-term projects, and other matters without a lot of hunting on the city’s website, Belzer said.
In another matter, Powell said those involved in the selection process of a professional services firm to run the events leading to the total eclipse of the sun in 2017 have not been able to meet. Two weeks ago, city council tabled a vote to hire a Colorado Springs firm, and decided to accept new proposals.