Special Olympics

Julie Huber is awarded an equestrian medal after competing in the Special Olympics Wyoming Summer Sports Classic in August at the Central Wyoming Fair Grounds. Special Olympics is one of five Casper nonprofits that bring crowds to town expected to receive financial assistance from the City Council. 

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

Despite a cutback in funding for community promotions, five local organizations are still expecting to receive financial assistance from the city for events that bring crowds to Casper.

Casper City Council will be voting on whether to authorize the expenditure of $26,493 for community promotions at its Tuesday night meeting. Tanya Johnson, the city’s special projects analyst, said Casper spent about $90,000 on promotions last year, but said that figure has been reduced due to budget concerns.

Mayor Kenyne Humphrey confirmed Monday that the minute-action is expected to pass unanimously.

The following nonprofits have already been selected to receive funding: Casper Amateur Hockey Club, Casper Marathon, Casper Soccer Club, Eddie McPherson Memorial, Nicolaysen Art Museum and the Special Olympics.

Only nonprofits were eligible to apply.

Wendy Brown, the executive director of the Casper Soccer Club, said the organization will be using the money to assist with the costs of renting fields. Support from the city is “pretty important” given that the organization also needs to pay for referees, porta-potties and on-site medical care at their events, said Brown.

The club holds three annual tournaments which each bring in about 1,000 competitors from outside the city.

Although the mayor said she’s been persuaded by other Council members to vote in favor of the action, she expressed concerns about approving the funds.

“I just have a hard time spending money when we are cutting employee benefits,” she explained.

City Manager Carter Napier enacted a series of cutbacks in September to reduce the approximately $4 million in reserves being used in the budget.

The budget cuts are expected to save the city about $1 million annually and included freezing city employees’ wages, reducing excess hours of disability for employees with more than 200 hours and no longer permitting employees to convert extra disability to vacation time or the salary equivalent.

Napier proposed an amendment at City Council’s Oct. 24 meeting that he said would balance Casper’s budget with significantly fewer reserve dollars by using a combination of cuts and new revenue sources.

The amendment would permanently darken 10 city positions that are currently vacant, and factors in anticipated savings from the cuts in September.

The plan also relies heavily on the assumption that City Council will pass a potential new agreement between Casper and Rocky Mountain Power that Napier said is expected to bring in an additional $800,000 annually for the city.

Other changes, such as cutbacks on travel expenses and office supplies in various departments, play a small role.

Casper’s budget challenges stem from low sales tax revenue and concerns over the certainty of state funding. City leaders are worried that the money they receive from the Wyoming Legislature is in jeopardy, as the state is continuing to face low tax revenue due to weak energy prices.

City Council will vote Tuesday to schedule a public hearing on the amendment for Nov. 21.

Katie King covers the city of Casper.

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Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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