DDA Mill Levy Passes, Generating Funds to Improve Downtown Cheyenne [AUDIO]

Property owners within Cheyenne’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) district approved a 20-mill tax levy on their properties in an election on Wednesday. DDA Administrator Thom Gabrukiewicz said this approval will generate an estimated $380,000 annually to help fund projects within the district.

Following this approval by voters, Gabrukiewicz talked about what the next steps are going to be.

All commercial, non-residential property owners within the district were eligible to vote. Boundaries of the 78-block DDA district are 15th to 22nd Streets and from House to Snyder Avenues. The district also includes property south of the viaduct, bound by Capitol and Central Avenues and Deming Drive.

To be certified, the results must still go through the Cheyenne City Council’s Finance Committee and full Governing Body.

The mill levy is voted on every four years and this continued levy will begin on Jan. 1, 2024. The current levy was approved by property owners in 2019.

A mill levy is a property tax that is based on the assessed value of a property. The rate of this assessment is expressed in mills. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

“I am delighted our Downtown Cheyenne commercial property owners voted to renew of the downtown commercial property mill levy,” said DDA Board President Wendy Volk. “The mill levy special election is an important tool for attracting business and property investment and improving the appearance of our downtown. Our downtown is comprised of over 500-plus diverse businesses with 38 major business industries. Cheyenne’s downtown is the core indicator for a thriving community. The DDA strives to be creative, focused, innovative and engaged with our downtown stakeholders and community.

“I would like to give a special thanks to Cheyenne City Clerk Kris Jones and her staff for assisting with the 2023 mill levy special election,” Volk continued. “In addition, I would like to acknowledge my appreciation of the downtown election volunteers, Glen Garrett, Olivia Samson, J. Fred Volk, and Sara Weber, for assisting with the in-person voting at the Cheyenne Depot Lobby.”

Levy funds provide a wide range of benefits to Downtown Cheyenne

Under a March agreement between the City of Cheyenne and the DDA, no administrative costs for the DDA will be paid for by the levy. That agreement frees more levy funding for items like filling planters with flowers, graffiti abatement, and sponsorship of events like Fridays on the Plaza, Edge Fest, Community Appreciation Day, Downtown Halloween, Old West Holiday, the Running of the Santas and others.

Some of the most dynamic improvements the levy supports have come from the DDA’s Capital Improvement Grant and Façade Improvement Program. Over the past four years, some $600,000 in grants has helped spur the redevelopment of downtown.

In September, the DDA Board chose Logan Simpson to update the DDA’s Plan of Development, which also is part of mill levy funding. Board discussions have occurred regarding the need to update the 1991 Plan of Development to align with amendments in 1993, 2006, 2016, and 2018 and to incorporate elements of other downtown plans. The original plan and subsequent amendments are online at the DDA’s website, www.cheyennecity.org/dda.

The work will include an audit of the current Plan of Development, as well as a robust public engagement piece that includes website and online engagement, as well as in-person events. The engagement approach is designed to keep community members informed throughout the planning process, gather feedback, including demographic data, at critical points, and create local champions. A comment tracking system will ensure the project will hear from a broad representative demographic, including residents, business owners, employees, elected and appointed officials, visitors to the area, community groups and nonprofits, and other invested partners.