A student scoops peanut butter while making sandwiches for Food for Thought during Have-a-Heart Day at Woods Learning Center in 2019. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — A range of Casper nonprofit organizations that received money from the “one-cent” optional sales tax during the current four-year cycle wouldn’t see that direct support under city staff’s proposal for use of the one-cent revenues over the next four years.

A total of $3,052,000 in one-cent revenues during the current four-year cycle was allocated to support the following entities, City Clerk Fleur Tremel told the City Council on Tuesday:

  • Seton House
  • Youth Crisis Center
  • Wyoming Food for Thought Project
  • Food Bank of the Rockies
  • University of Wyoming Extension
  • United Way of Natrona County
  • Self Help Center
  • Science Zone
  • Natrona County Library
  • Natrona County Meals on Wheels
  • Casper-Natrona County Health Department
  • Mercer Family Resource Center
  • Joshua’s Storehouse
  • Interfaith of Natrona County
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Downtown Development Authority
  • Children’s Advocacy Project
  • Child Development Center
  • Casper Senior Center
  • Casper Sports Alliance
  • Casper Mountain Ski Patrol
  • CASA of Natrona County
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • ARC of Natrona County

While many of those organizations wouldn’t see grants through one-cent under the staff proposal, some nonprofit agencies would still see funding.

Staff’s “one-cent” proposal includes a total of $3 million under the “Community Assistance” category, with $1.3 million of that total to subsidize swimming pool rates in Casper.

The Casper Housing Authority would see $900,000 to support operations of the Life Steps Campus, City Manager Carter Napier said. That facility is owned by the city but operated by the Casper Housing Authority.

$400,000 would be allocated to facilities improvements at the Nicolaysen Art Museum. While the city doesn’t manage the activities at the museum, it owns the property.

Children’s Advocacy Project would see $128,000 over the upcoming four-year one-cent cycle. This organization would receive support because it offers services to child victims, a service critical to the Casper Police Department as the department doesn’t have all the resources it needs to offer such services itself, Napier said.

Also under the Community Assistance section, $122,000 would be allocated to support College National Finals Rodeo. $100,000 would be allocated to UW Extension’s Master Gardener program under the staff proposal. $50,000 would be allocated to parking lot drainage improvements at Stuckenhoff Shooters Complex.

The Platte River Trails Trust would get $1 million in one-cent revenues over the next four years, with that allocation listed under the “Parks and Playgrounds” section of the staff’s proposal. The PRTT was allocated about $1.5 million in one-cent revenues during the current cycle.

The city’s “Community Promotions” program was also discussed during the work session on Tuesday. While the city is no longer providing money to organizations that bring events to Casper via the program as it has historically, Napier noted that the city is now partnering with Visit Casper on that program and Visit Casper is offering direct funding to organizations that bring events to town with the city offering opportunities to use city facilities or services at reduced costs. The city historically used General Fund dollars toward Community Promotions, not one-cent dollars, city staff said in an email Thursday.

The reduction in direct support for nonprofit organizations under staff’s proposal comes as the city looks to find more money for things like streets maintenance and care for aging infrastructure while simultaneously trying to fund a host of other municipal services.

The top five categories that would receive support from one-cent revenue over the next four years are the following, under staff’s proposal:

  • Street repairs and equipment: $21.8 million
  • Water and sewer: $10.4 million
  • Public building repairs: $6.095 million
  • Police: $5.5 million
  • Fire-EMS: $4.805 million

The $21.8 million for street maintenance and equipment would be an increase from the $19 million allocated to streets during the current four-year cycle. Some on the City Council want to direct more to streets as the $21.8 million would be about $2.8 million shy of what would be needed to ensure Casper’s overall “Pavement Condition Index” score of 59 doesn’t decline.

With staff’s proposal reducing direct funding for a number of nonprofit organizations, Councilmember Jai-Ayla Southerland asked how long these organizations have received such support. She also asked whether the decision to stop providing the one-cent grants could impact the city’s relationship with such organizations in the community.

The city has been supporting community-based organizations using one-cent money since at least the 1980s but not necessarily in the form of grant money directly provided to them, Napier said. The one-cent money provided to nonprofits has likely helped the city form relationships with those organizations, he added.

While the one-cent money is important to some of the organizations that have received support, Napier said he didn’t think removing that support would necessarily mean those organizations won’t be able to find ways to continue operating.

Nevertheless, “There will be nonprofit agencies that will feel that absence,” Napier said.

The City Council has yet to finalize a plan for use of one-cent revenues over the next four years and will continue their discussion of the topic during the July 12 work session. Once a plan is finalized, the City Council will be asked to formally adopt a resolution as a commitment to residents as to how one-cent revenues will be used over the next four years should voters choose to renew the countywide optional sales tax this November.

Staff’s overall proposal can be reviewed in the following document:

NOTE: A previous version of this story said Community Promotions historically received funding from one-cent. City staff said Thursday Community Promotions was historically funded via the city’s General Fund, not one-cent. This story has been updated to reflect that.