The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins

This week started off with a breakfast between the Casper City Council and our Cheyenne City Council. It is one of my favorite opportunities during the legislative session. It is fun to speak with folks who are similarly situated and ask questions about common issues. It has become an annual tradition.

Cheyenne’s economy has been growing over the past few years. It is time to start working on the 2025 budget and direct distribution of funding from the state is our fourth largest revenue source. I spent time at the Capitol testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee about the importance of these funds to every city and town in our state. The House had raised the funding from $105 million to $146 million to be shared by cities, towns, and counties for the next two years. This matches what we received over the past biennium. While our economy has been growing, we have seen the same inflationary cost increases we all have in our family budgets. I can report the committee was very supportive and sent the $146 million on to the full Senate for further consideration.

F.E. Warren AFB held their annual awards ceremony called, “A Night at the Oscars.” It was a chance to celebrate the top performers in 16 different categories. The Air Force members were all in their formal dress mess uniforms and looked so great. One highlight is the “Community Member of the Year” award that went to Carolyn Ritschard. She chairs the Adopt an Airman program and also helps coordinate the cookie drive that sees 600 dozen cookies delivered to the base. Judy and I always appreciate the invitations and hospitality the military shows to our civilian population. A shout out to General Michelle Mulberry who was the guest speaker. She read the room and her message was just right for the night.

Judy was invited to a lunch at Halladay Subaru as she was one of the folks picked for the $15,000 car voucher drawing. They pick the drawing contestants from donors to the United Way campaign. Two things: Judy did not win, dang it. Second, it is awesome this company annually supports the United Way by giving the car voucher each year. The United Way does so much to support the nonprofits in our community and I would like to say thank you to everyone who donated this year. They picked the winner in reverse order so the tension was fun. Hope we get drawn next year and have better luck.

Last year I got a letter from a guy from California. He was driving an electric vehicle across the country and when he got to Cheyenne, we did not have a single fast public charging station for his non-Tesla type of vehicle. He had to have his car towed to Fort Collins to get a charge and resume his trip. I have been working on this problem for a while now, and although we now have an Electrify America station on Dell Range, we can do more. We had a company visit that specializes in using Department of Transportation grants to build EV charging stations at little or no cost. It was a good first visit and I am interested in finding partnerships around town that could host these kinds of charging stations. I sure don’t want another letter from a disappointed tourist.

We have talked a lot about solar power recently. It got the attention of the Wyoming Solar Coalition. The Coalition was formed to support the folks who put solar panels on their property to help offset the cost of running their homes. Our project is a much larger Community Solar project that we hope to place on the closed part of our landfill. It is a very complicated process but we are making steady progress. It was fun to learn more about the home solar industry.

We have a robust GIS Cooperative in Laramie County. It is a partnership between the county, city, and BOPU to make sure we have great maps and data. I was introduced to our new cooperative coordinator Heidi Oberlin this week. She comes with years of diverse experience and I look forward to her moving to Cheyenne very soon.

When we came into office three years ago, the city could not issue a business license, file for an annexation, or offer building permits online. We allocated some of our ARPA money to buy a completely new software system that would allow our residents to do business with the city remotely. I got an update this week on the progress. We have a couple of city departments fully operational, and a couple more are just weeks away from going live. It has been a lot of work for our employees to do their daily jobs while supporting the conversion. It is painful but the end result will be worth the time and effort.

Cheyenne LEADS has targeted family-owned manufacturing companies as a great fit for recruiting to Cheyenne. I met with a gentleman and his son who are looking to expand a nationwide company that manufactures oils, lubricants and other products for agriculture, construction, mining, trucking, power generation, automotive, and industrial industries. I asked how they learned about Cheyenne and what drew them to visit our beautiful city. Cheyenne has business parks with rail access a company like these needs for their operation. The work LEADS and other private developers has really set Cheyenne up for success. Thank you.

During our recent WAM meeting, and in our current legislative session the conversation has centered around housing and the lack of affordability. I had a developer that has built affordable housing for the last 20 years in Colorado stop by to talk about the opportunities in Cheyenne and Wyoming. I believe solving the affordable housing challenge starts with understanding the math. It was interesting to talk with someone who has completed so many affordable housing projects and financed them in many different ways. They understand the math required to make these projects happen and are willing to help educate me. I am hopeful we will find the magic funding formulas that will allow our community to build the housing we need to grow our labor pool. Thanks Andy.

I love summer. March is here and we are getting close to green grass, leaves on the trees and backyard barbeques. Hoping for moisture but no blizzards.