The Laramie City Council will be holding a workshop Thursday this week to review the City Manager’s recommendation for the budget for the next biennium, 2019-2020.

Laramie Mayor Andrea Summerville said the council will also be considering any amendments that council members want to bring to the meeting.

Summerville said this budget is among the smaller budgets that the city has seen in the last decade.

“We are still continuing to feel that cut in state funding to the city of Laramie and what stands out in this budget is really what’s not there,” she said.

The budget, Summerville said, is a continuation of the reduced staffing level the city has maintained through attrition at the city during the last 18 months.  There is not a lot of capital infrastructure projects either, which she says is reflective of the funding.

The renewal of the fifth and sixth penny tax with have a big effect on what the city’s budget looks like in 2020.

“Because we have both of those taxes up in the fall, we really can’t do a lot of planning until the voters go to the polls and decide whether they would like to renew the fifth penny and the sixth penny,” Summerville said.

The city will start to have conversations about the fifth and sixth penny taxes in earnest over the summer. The sixth-penny tax, which covers capital improvement projects, will be up for a vote in August. If voters choose to renew that tax, then the city will be able to invest in streets and storm water, as well as Parks and Rec maintenance and updates, and fire training station that the city needs.

The fifth-penny will be up for a vote in November is used for general government operations including paying police officers and Fire Department and the Community Partners Program.

City Manager Janine Jordan said the fifth-penny tax usually brings in $4.2 to 4.4 million each year. If the fifth-penny doesn’t pass a vote, Jordan said that means 20-25 percent of the City general fund budget would have to be cut.

“Both of those pennies are very important to the city of Laramie, right now we really want to maintain the level of funding that we have,” Summerville said.

The City of Laramie is looking into news ways to increase revenue in Laramie, in the wake of a state direct distribution that Summerville said has become increasingly unreliable for basic operations.

“We are trying to figure out how to maintain a level of service while walking us away from that direct distribution as something that is necessary for general operating capital,” she said.

The City Council has worked with the Wyoming Association of Municipalities to open the conversation with the State Legislature about multiple options, such fee revenue sources, all of which Summerville said would have to be voter-approved.

Summerville said the budget would be officially approved on June 12, to go into effect July 1, 2018.

While a lot of the conversation has revolved around what the city doesn’t have in terms of budget, Summerville said she wants to focus on what the city can still do for residents.

“We are going to try to find creative ways and think outside of the box to tackle some of the infrastructure issues, the service issues that we are seeing as a city,” Summerville said. “We want to make sure that the city is still providing that level of service to our residents. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we’ve given up. We are going to keep trying to make it work.”