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Cheyenne DDA mill levy passes, generating funds for downtown Cheyenne

Downtown Cheyenne (Photo by Stephanie Lam / Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Property owners within Cheyenne’s Downtown Development Authority, or DDA, district approved a 20-mill tax levy on their properties in an election today.

The tax will generate an estimated $380,000 annually to help fund projects within the district, according to a press release.

The final vote was 77 in favor and 19 opposed. All commercial, non-residential property owners within the district were eligible to vote, the release states. Boundaries of the 78-block DDA district are 15th to 22nd streets and from House to Snyder avenues. The district also includes property south of the viaduct, bound by Capitol and Central avenues and Deming Drive.

To be certified, the results must still go through the Cheyenne City Council’s Finance Committee and full Governing Body.

“We are delighted that our downtown property owners, our valued partners in the DDA, have supported the mill levy for another four years, which will allow the DDA to continue to beautify downtown, sponsor a lot of really cool events, continue to fund grants for façade and right-of-way improvements and to complete the comprehensive plan of development for downtown,” said DDA Administrator Thom Gabrukiewicz. “With this renewed support, we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our property owners, business owners, and the community as a whole and continue to make a positive impact and vision for downtown.”

The mill levy is voted on every four years and this continued levy will begin on Jan. 1, 2024. The current levy was approved by property owners in 2019.

A mill levy is a property tax that is based on the assessed value of a property. The rate of this assessment is expressed in mills. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

As stated in the ballot language, mill levy funds “will be used exclusively for landscaping and maintenance of public areas; planning and management of development or improvement activities; promotion of public events; and activities in support of business recruitment and development.”

“I am delighted our Downtown Cheyenne commercial property owners voted to renew the downtown commercial property mill levy,” said DDA Board President Wendy Volk. “The mill levy special election is an important tool for attracting business and property investment and improving the appearance of our downtown. Our downtown is comprised of over 500-plus diverse businesses with 38 major business industries. Cheyenne’s downtown is the core indicator for a thriving community. The DDA strives to be creative, focused, innovative and engaged with our downtown stakeholders and community.”

“I would like to give a special thanks to Cheyenne City Clerk Kris Jones and her staff for assisting with the 2023 mill levy special election,” Volk said. “In addition, I would like to acknowledge my appreciation of the downtown election volunteers, Glen Garrett, Olivia Samson, J. Fred Volk, and Sara Weber, for assisting with the in-person voting at the Cheyenne Depot Lobby.”

Per the release, under a March agreement between the City of Cheyenne and the DDA, no administrative costs for the DDA will be paid for by the levy. That agreement frees more levy funding for items like filling planters with flowers, graffiti abatement, and sponsorship of events like Fridays on the Plaza, Edge Fest, Community Appreciation Day, Downtown Halloween, Old West Holiday, the Running of the Santas and more.

Some of the most dynamic improvements the levy supports have come from the DDA’s Capital Improvement Grant and Façade Improvement Program. Over the past four years, some $600,000 in grants has helped spur the redevelopment of downtown.

In September, the DDA Board chose Logan Simpson to update the DDA’s Plan of Development, which also is part of mill levy funding. Board discussions have occurred regarding the need to update the 1991 Plan of Development to align with amendments in 1993, 2006, 2016 and 2018 and to incorporate elements of other downtown plans.

The original plan and subsequent amendments are online at the DDA’s website, www.cheyennecity.org/dda.

Per the release, the work will include an audit of the current Plan of Development, as well as a robust public engagement piece that includes website and online engagement, as well as in-person events. The engagement approach is designed to keep community members informed throughout the planning process, gather feedback, including demographic data, at critical points and create local champions. A comment tracking system will ensure the project will hear from a broad representative demographic, including residents, business owners, employees, elected and appointed officials, visitors to the area, community groups and nonprofits and other invested partners.