CASPER, Wyo. — Casper voters continue to prioritize infrastructure and emergency services for optional one-cent sales tax money, according to the results of more than 5,000 surveys.
“You know how desperate our streets are. I mean, there are potholes popping up everywhere,” City Manager John Patterson said during a Friday news conference centered on the sales tax.
Survey results show that 89 percent of people believe putting one-cent money toward streets is important or very important.
Infrastructure, police and fire typically command the lion’s share of voters’ attention, but there have been some surprises this year.
The city has taken care to better describe a savings account used to care for facilities built with 1-cent money, like the golf course, rec center and swimming pools.
As a result, support for putting 1-cent money into that account has jumped from almost dead last to the sixth-highest priority.
Support for the creation of greener buildings and for putting money toward library books and the reserve fund plummeted down the priority list from where they were four years ago.
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“It’s hard to get that as a sexy project,” Patterson said. “It’s hard for anybody to get excited about energy conservation.”
Voters in Evanston, Edgerton and Mills are pushing overwhelmingly for one-cent money to go toward emergency services. In the county, roads and bridges, emergency management and the sheriff’s department dominate the list's top spots.
Bar Nunn, on the other hand, is more focused on recreation, and Mills simply wants better snow removal.
Local officials are using a combination of online, mailed and in-person surveys to gather public input on how one-cent money should be spent if voters approve another four years of the tax in November.
The tax, established in 1974, has been renewed 13 times. A record 70.4 percent approved the tax in 2010, Patterson said. The city is not taking that support for granted, though.
“When I’m stupefied at night and have nothing to do, and I want a kick in the butt, I’ll go read a blog and get thoroughly depressed,” Patterson said. “There are some things out there that are frightening to me, some people who think we are … spending here, there and everywhere.”
To that end, three more public survey sessions are scheduled between now and the end of the survey period, May 15. The next meeting will be at the Child Development Center of Natrona County on March 27.