The week started out at Blue Federal Credit Union for the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Forecast Brunch. A representative from the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, Dr. Anne Alexander from the University of Wyoming, and Curtis Dubay who is an economist with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came together to give us an update on the economy and what to expect in the future. It is so interesting to me as it helps me understand how the economy may affect our city budget. I was pleased to hear that inflation is down significantly from the recent highs, but we still have a tough battle to get it to the 2% target by the Fed. I was hoping to hear interest rates are headed down to spur housing starts, but I left disappointed. Sounds like it will be a while before we see any significant relief. I appreciate the Chamber making these kinds of events available.
Talking about the economy, I had a scheduled meeting with our treasurer, Robin, to look at our city revenues. We are in the fourth month of this year’s budget and have received two sales tax reports so far. Consumer spending has boosted sales tax revenues above our budget by a significant amount. Hoping the local economy stays strong.
A quick update on our efforts to work with State Parks to make the High Plains Arboretum a State Historic Site: the Legislature’s Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Committee met and decided to create a working group to work out more of the details between all the potential partners. More to come as the working group gets started in the coming weeks.
Saturday morning, I was at LCCC to attend the 12th annual African MAAFA Remembrance Day. I have attended a few of these events put on by Dr. Peebles and his committee. I especially enjoyed the list of speakers this year. It was great to see JaQuale Brooks-Richardson come back to Cheyenne and speak about going from survival to living. I learned so much about Africa from Dr. Mohamed Salih. A continent of over a billion people and more than half are under 25 years old. It is amazing how quickly four hours flies by when you are learning and having fun.
Cheyenne has a huge veteran population and many of them hope to be buried in a National Cemetery. A couple of years ago the Department of Veteran Affairs built a rural National Cemetery on the Arboretum just west of town. Today we are seeing five internments per week. A concern expressed by the veterans is the road leading to the cemetery is a dirt road and not in very good shape. Our city council has agreed to pave the road and add some much-needed parking spaces. Cassie in our engineering department stopped by to show the preliminary design. We hope to bid it out this winter and see it paved in the spring. Our veterans deserve a quality National Cemetery.
The Boys and Girls Club and After School for Kids (ASK) were awarded much needed money from AT&T to help with the digital literacy for the kids in their programs. The $15,000 grant will help both programs help get their students ready for school today and their careers in the future. I was honored to be invited to take part in the presentation and meet the folks from AT&T. I also learned about the ASK program for the first time. They have much the same mission as the Boys and Girls Club and do it in schools. I am thankful we have such dedicated organizations that are preparing our kids to succeed.
A quick update on our new fire stations. The voters approved the building of three new stations in our last 6th penny sales tax election. The Chief reported the stations are mostly constructed and we should be cutting ribbons in the next few months. They still have communications equipment and final touches before the first crews will be able to move in. I toured one station again this week and it looks amazing. I can’t wait to have an open house and share them with the community.
Being mayor has some great perks. This week I was asked to judge a wing cooking contest on F.E. Warren AFB. Eight teams of cooks had 30 minutes to use the ingredients found in the kitchen where the cafeteria feeds the airmen. They could not use anything from outside including recipes. 30 minutes later, we got to dig in. My favorite was the jerk flavored wings. I was impressed by the quality of wings and would have paid for them in a restaurant if they were available. I think the most creative was the Thai butter wings with a ghost pepper fruit dipping sauce. Peanut butter and jam wings.
Some good news for our downtown this week. The owners of commercial properties in the DDA district voted to renew the 20 mills additional property tax for another four years. The vote was 77 for the tax and 19 against. The property tax will raise around $380,000 each year. The city has agreed to pay for the administrative cost of the DDA so the entirety of the funds raised by the 20 mills will go to the betterment of the area.
I have received four letters in the past couple of months from a letter writer who has shared very good advice and ideas for making Cheyenne a better place. Most of the ideas revolve around infrastructure backed up by industry articles. I really do appreciate the letters but find myself frustrated that the letters come anonymously. I would like to follow up and have a conversation in response to the letters. Hoping the next letter includes a phone number and a willingness to talk.
I would like to give a shout out to two people this week. Vicki Dowdy works for the BOPU and helped rewrite an ordinance that makes sure our sewer system is protected from grease and pollutants that would jeopardize the system. The council and I had some concerns and she helped make the rewrites that got passed by the city council. She was awesome. Jennifer Escobedo works at the public health department and she helped the city and county with a development application that was stuck. Thanks, Jennifer, for getting involved and helping the developer process get moving.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the last few days of this warm fall weather.