CHEYENNE, Wyo. — During Thursday’s 2024 budget work session, Jason Sanchez, department director for Cheyenne’s Community Events and Recreation department, said councilmembers should prepare to see a future budget report that reflects the costs of building new sports facilities.
Over the next two weeks, councilmembers will hold work sessions to review the city’s proposed 2024 budget. This will determine how much funding city departments, city projects and other operations will receive in the next fiscal year. The mayor, city treasurer and department directors begin compiling the proposed budget report in January of each year. The budget undergoes multiple work sessions and readings by the City Council before it can be approved.
Thursday’s session focused on Community Events and Recreation department, which is responsible for maintaining community buildings and city-run parks and sport programs.
The city owns a Youth Activity Center, but that space is not enough to hold a growing number of program participants, Sanchez said. A few years ago, the district removed some of their grade-school sports team, which led to more kids joining city-led ones. In 2020, when the city sold LCSD1 its Recreation Neighborhood Facility to build a new elementary school, teams started holding their practices in school gyms.
LCSD1 recently started charging rent to use those facilities, something that has not happened before, Sanchez said. If the district continues to charge, the programs will have to raise participant fees, according to Sanchez. A better alternative, Sanchez said, is to have the city invest money into building more outside sports facilities. Although the 2024 budget report doesn’t reflect those potential building costs, Sanchez said future reports might.
“Those are really tough conversations to have,” he said during the session. “I don’t know all of the details at the moment because we haven’t had a time to sit and negotiate and discuss, but that time is soon approaching.”
Councilmember Scott Roybal asked why the district decided to charge rent after “years of partnership” with the city.
Sanchez said he doesn’t know, but that Mayor Patrick Collins and LCSD1 Superintendent Margaret Crespo will meet sometime in the upcoming weeks to have that conversation. He added that it was valid question to ask, as LCSD1 uses city facilities, including golf and tennis courses, the Ice and Events Center, and parks free of charge.
Like Sanchez, councilmember Jeff White said the council should anticipate a future city budget that accommodates the cost for building and maintaining new sports facilities.
“The next few years might be a little hard,” he said during the session. “but we have to focus on what we need to do and focus on what’s right for the youth and families in our communities.”