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1-cent committee raises $100,000

Committee tries to forestall anti-tax voters

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The 1-Cent Committee of the Casper Area Chamber of Commerce has raised nearly $100,000 to sell the optional tax to Natrona County voters who will head to the polls next Tuesday.

Of the $99,976 raised, $74,499 was donated by the fundraising arm of the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, known as Forward Casper.

The group was looking to raise about $100,000 to promote the tax as essential to city services and recreational offerings, according to Lori Becker, chairwoman of the committee.

"I think this is the most money [the committee has] raised," said Becker, who is the executive director of the chamber of commerce.

The money is being spent on mailings to homes and television, radio and newspaper advertising. The committee also funded movie theater advertisements and Facebook promotions.

Becker said Forward Casper was able to tap a diverse group of donors -- banks, mining and construction industries and others -- that are already CAEDA members. Forward Casper also matched $20,000 in funds raised by the chamber.

The largest portion of the money, about $17,500, was spent on two separate mailings, each to about 20,000 households. About $15,000 was spent on radio advertising, with about $7,500 spent on television spots. Movie theater ads cost another $5,400. Staff expenditures accounted for $13,636.35.

The report, filed yesterday with Natrona County , indicated the committee still had about $17,500 in unspent funds. Becker, however, said this money was already allotted: $6,600 for cable television ads, plus another mailing and newspaper ads.

Smaller amounts were used for an assortment of measures, such as yard signs ($1,246.46), sticky pads ($354.80) and Facebook advertising ($175).

Other large donors to the committee included:

* Groathouse Construction, Inc. - $6,000

* WLC Engineering, Surveying and Planning - $5,000

* Stuart Tanner of Automation Electronics - $3,000

* ITC Electrical Technologies - $2,500

* Hilltop National Bank - $2,000

* First Interstate Bank - $2,000

The city expects to collect $48 million from the 1-cent sales tax, which voters have passed every four years since 1974. For this cycle, the city of Casper -- based on a perception of anti-tax sentiment -- took a survey of public priorities for the tax should be spent.

Citizens for a 3% Lodging Tax, another local political action committee, reported raising $2,425.15 through Oct. 25, according to documents it provided . That group, which advocates for the tax on people staying in hotels and campgrounds in Natrona County, as been promoting it as a tax that local residents largely don't have to pay.

The group is spending money on billboards and newspaper and radio advertising but not television spots.

"Can't afford it, we don't have enough money to do TV," said Bonnie Foster, the committee's chairwoman.

Citizens for a 3% Lodging Tax had not yet officially filed the report as of late yesterday afternoon, according to Chris Lindsey, elections deputy clerk for Natrona County.

While Foster said the committee has raised less money than in the past, she thinks voters will again approve the tax.

"I have a good feeling it's going to pass," she said. "I'm not sure that's it's going to be by miles."

Reach reporter Joe O'Sullivan at 307-266-0639 or joe.osullivan@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jaosullivanx

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