Casper City Council Moves Forward with Budget Proposal
The Casper City Council has decided to move forward with the funding proposal they were given at the council meeting on Wednesday.
The budget includes many different items, however the main topics of discussion were employee compensation, several new positions, and funding infrastructure.
A year ago the council had commissioned a firm, Graves Consulting, to find out if the city needs to adjust how it pays its employees.
At the council meeting Laruie Graves, from the firm talked to council about how the city has 53% of its employees at the top of their pay grade, with many similar businesses being at 20 to 25%.
Graves said it would cost around $127,000 from the general fund to change how wages are done.
Carter Napier, city manager for the council, said doing so would not increase many employee wages, but rather increase the range of how much employee wages could increase to.
The proposed budget also included seven new positions for the city, going from 498 to 505, including jobs for digital analyst, cyber specialists, and city engineer.
Council member Bruce Knell had reservations about giving funding for these kind of positions because he said he wants to avoid expanding the size of the government and be fiscally responsible.
Several council members, like Amber Pollock and Ray Pacheco, said in response how important these positions are, especially something like cyber specialists, because of the relatively low upfront cost compared to how much the city would spend later if they did not have the position.
Knell said he understands the need for a cyber specialists because his wife's law firm recently got hacked, however he said it was still important to keep the size of the government down.
Freel said he thinks the council needs to spend money from time to time and doesn't like how often fiscally responsible gets thrown around when it comes to not funding things.
"Four years we have paid for training for school shooters why, because it could happen, did it happen, yes, Casper College happened. During this last year we brought in extra people because we had issues on a Wednesday during a peaceful protest to make sure it didn't happen on a Friday. Sometimes we just have to spend money in order to protect the people...but at the end of the day there are some things we're going to have to fund, so being fiscally responsible, I'm really tired of hearing that term, we all know why we're here and we know why we're doing what we do, but at the end of the day you've got to do what's right, simple as that."
By the end of the session, Knell withdrew his concerns about the budget, as the issues he'd had were addressed.
Council member Kyle Gamroth said he is concerned with the lack of funding that the city puts towards things like water, sewer, streets, and wanted to know if there's any hope the city can fund those programs which he said need around $3.5 million a year.
Napier said there are several methods the city could take towards getting the funding needed, such as raising water bills, and that the council would discuss that more in the future.