The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – April 8th
Published on April 08, 2022
CHEYENNE – I think this is the busiest week I have had since being elected mayor. I counted 43 meetings this week. This is the week we meet with our treasurer and every city department to go over their budget requests. I love the opportunity to meet with them and learn their priorities and needs for the next fiscal year. This week the base is hosting the Global Strike Senior Leader Conference. The leadership of the 8th Air Force and 20th Air Force are all here. I am a Global Strike Civic Leader, and this means I get a chance to attend the meetings and learn all that is happening in our nuclear Air Force.
Last Saturday saw a couple of amazing opportunities. It is prom season, and it costs a lot to attend. Jean Richardson started to collect prom dresses to give out to ladies who needed them 15 years ago. It has become a mission to make prom dresses available to every girl in our city that needs one. ANB Bank donated a show room so Jean could get the dresses out of her basement. It felt like a boutique when I walked in. A half dozen ladies were there to help the girls find the perfect dress from the almost 400 in inventory. It was great to see the excitement on the faces of the girls getting ready for the big dance.
Later that day I joined Alf and Ms. Sallee at Lowes where they were selling raffle tickets to benefit local veterans. Lowes had donated a riding lawn mower and BBQ grill and Budweiser donated some fun sports equipment. These two folks spend so much time working to help veterans, I can’t say enough about their efforts. All the money goes to their veterans’ projects. Big disappointment in not winning the riding lawn mower!
Our Community Recreation and Events (CRE) department consists of our parks, forestry, recreation, facilities, aquatics, golf, botanic gardens, and cemetery. Teresa Moore and Jason Sanchez are the folks who help direct this huge department. During the recent Covid pandemic, their department took some hits to the budget. With the school district stopping grade school sports programs, their sports participation has skyrocketed. The challenge is to find the resources to help them keep up with the demand of the public to get outdoors and enjoy our programs and facilities. Inflation is not helping.
The City Clerk is another department that is asking for help to bridge the gap from the old way of doing business to the new way where everything is online and saved to the cloud. Kris Jones started out as the admin for the city council back in my time, and she has been the clerk for a few years now. The big ask is for help in getting the computer software and help to get everything updated and online. We are definitely making progress.
Human Resources ask for next year is for software to help with performance appraisals and feedback. With this many full-time employees, using technology is making everyone’s job easier. Darrin Hass, our HR director is also working to implement Cheyenne U. It is a training program to help our employees get the skills needed to advance their careers and make their current jobs easier. 25 courses, taught by our staff and others can make a world of difference. In this environment, finding and hiring good employees is a challenge. Our HR department is working hard to make a difference.
Chief Kopper from our fire department shared his priorities for the future. Our city is growing, and this makes meeting our response standards a challenge. Your support of the Sixth Penny Sales Tax will make a huge difference with the three new stations. Replacing Marsha Connour in the office after 40 years of service is going to be the biggest challenge in the next couple of years. Our plan is to hire her replacement early so she can pass on the vast knowledge. Our 91 firefighters are dedicated to the safety of our residents.
Our police department is struggling with the cost of inflation and supply chain shortages. Getting things like ammo and other supplies is getting harder and more expensive. With the growth of the city, business is getting busier in police speak. Getting them the needed help both on the street and in the back office is the biggest ask. We have 110 officers that work every day to make our streets safe. Chief Francisco is new to Cheyenne and tells everyone how much he loves our department and city. I gave him back the Kansas City Chiefs jersey, won’t need it anymore as the Denver Broncos have a new quarterback and it is time for the blue and orange to win.
Stefanie Boster is our city attorney. She is our newest director and came to us with city council experience in Casper. The biggest need in our attorney’s office is to hire a new deputy city attorney. The city is growing and that means too many contracts, MOUs, professional services agreements, resolutions, ordinances, and general questions for one attorney. We are looking for an experienced attorney to take the load off Stefanie. Hoping someone out there can fill the bill. I promise it is a great place to work.
Our planning department is charged with making sure our current development meets our codes, and that we are planning for the way the city will grow in the future. Charles Bloom gave us the outline for his budget needs for the next year, and he gave us a glimpse of what it will take for the planning department to meet the future. One thing I took note of is the need to do a parks and recreation master plan. It was 2006 when our last one was done.
We are blessed to have Tom Cobb as our city engineer. His needs for the next year revolve around hiring the staff needed to keep up with the growth of the city. We want to provide timely customer service, and that will take more help in the near future. We also discussed some of the drainage issues we have targeted over the past year. Good news is we are making progress in this arena.
Our municipal court moved into their new building a few years ago. It is such a nice addition to our downtown. Judge Tony Ross is our senior judge, and he shared the court is getting busier and busier. The challenge is to add the help to keep up with the volume. It is sad that business is this good.
I think one of the hardest departments to run is our compliance department. Compliance is responsible for nuisance complaints, animal control, our building inspectors, and risk management. It is hard to take complaints from the community and get them worked out. Eric Fountain is the director, and he always has a positive attitude and gets the job done.
The last budget meeting of the week was with our IT department. My biggest concern are computer attacks. We are making the investments to make sure our system is safe. Tyler and Dustin make me feel comfortable that they have things under control. One thing they suggested is ongoing cyber security training for our staff to make sure we don’t fall prey to a scam.
The Global Strike Senior Leader Conference has been a blast this week. We have been blessed to hear from an expert on China that opened my eyes. A couple of folks who give the command advice on Russia educated the group on Russian history and how it influences today’s leaders. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Brown gave us an update on the state of the Air Force and challenged us to help the airmen living in our community successfully integrate into our communities. General Cotton is the commander of this diverse command and I really enjoyed hearing his vision and understanding what the troops he commands do to protect our nation. Cheyenne is blessed to have F.E. Warren Air Force Base and I ask our community to look for ways to help make their airmen feel welcomed here.
If you have a question for me, send it to email@example.com. I’ll continue to answer them in my following Mayor’s Minute column.