The new Casper City Council held its first work session of the year on Tuesday. (City of Casper, YouTube)

CASPER, Wyo. — During its work session Tuesday, the Casper City Council will hear a presentation about a study exploring the electrification of Casper Area Transit buses.

The Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization contracted HDR Engineering to conduct the bus fleet conversion study, and the firm is expected to provide some preliminary information to the City Council about it on Tuesday. The study is being conducted to gather information on the feasibility of electrifying the Casper Area Transit fleet, a memo from City of Casper staff explains.

“The Federal Transit Administration is promoting the conversion of fossil fuel transit fleets and requested that this study be completed,” the memo said. “The study would, if federally mandated or desired by our community, position the MPO and Casper Area Transit to take advantage of federal electric fleet conversion funding.”

The final findings of the study are expected to be presented to the City Council in June.

The work session on Tuesday will also include discussion of a staff recommendation to procure a new backup power generator for the Casper Metro Animal Shelter.

“Animals are housed at the facility 24/7 and the need for adequate power and redundancies are
essential to ensure the safe and humane treatment of animals,” a staff memo regarding the Metro generator recommendation stated. “The care of animals and the animal control function within municipalities has changed considerably since the shelter was first built approximately forty years ago.

“Those changes, coupled with a catastrophic heating failure occurring in 2022, have caused staff to evaluate all aspects of the City’s animal services function. Through that analysis, we believe Metro Animal Services Shelter can reduce its risk exposure, ensure a safe shelter environment for animals, and better meet its mission with the installation of a backup power generator.”

The City Council will also discuss its process for electing leadership and possible adjustments to how a mayor and vice mayor are elected in the future. The council elects a mayor and vice mayor from among its own members at the first meeting of January each year.

Councils have historically used a process that begins with councilors nominating themselves or other councilors for mayor or vice mayor. The full council then holds a straw poll vote to select new leadership, formally confirming this via vote during the first meeting of the new year.

“Recently, beginning in 2021, there were several names on each straw poll ballot, which could result in a tie or a lack of a majority,” a staff memo stated. “The options to avoid this would be to do a run off or use ranked-choice voting.”

“A ranked-choice voting system is a system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, that person is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority. Staff suggested the ranked choice voting in 2021 in order to simplify the process and not require Council to revote, or to have to announce which nominee would be removed from the ballot and then revote.”

In addition to considering adjustments to the leadership selection process, the City Council will hear a recommendation about the creation of a new Local Assessment District No. 159 Westridge Improvements.

The new LAD would be created to fund repairs to infrastructure in the residential Westridge Addition, which was platted and developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a memo from city staff said.

“The infrastructure in the area has exceeded its useful life span and street surfacing is highly deteriorated,” the memo added. “In addition to the surfacing, water lines are experiencing frequent failures and are in need of replacement and upsizing.”

The city has conducted a number of similar projects to replace aging infrastructure in older neighborhoods, including projects like Ft. Casper Phase I, Ft. Casper Phase II and University Park.

“These projects consisted of asphalt pavement, concrete curbwalk, water main, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer improvements and were funded by the City of Casper as well as by the property owners in the construction area,” the memo said. “The City of Casper funded the asphalt pavement, water main, sanitary sewer main, and storm sewer improvements. The City of Casper assisted property owners in forming a Local Assessment District (LAD), where property owners were assessed for the costs associated with the concrete curbwalk improvements and new sanitary sewer service lines.”

The city has contracted WLC Engineering and Surveying to develop plans for the proposed LAD project. The project would occur in phases, with the first phase to be completed in fall 2023. A public meeting was held with property owners in the area in January.

“The overall consensus at the meeting was that property owners were in favor of the improvements and the cost savings of the LAD,” the staff memo said.

The City Council will also hear an update regarding the Casper-Natrona County Health Department during Tuesday’s work session.

Further details about the work session are available in the council’s work packet:

The work session will begin at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Casper City Hall, 200 N. David St. It can be streamed via the City of Casper’s YouTube channel:

YouTube video