Casper City Council Votes Down $1 Million Scoreboard for Events Center; May Reconsider
They shot, they didn't score, and they may get another shot again.
Five of the nine Casper City Council members on Tuesday voted against the $1 million purchase of a new scoreboard plus other improvements to the electronic signs for the Events Center.
"Part of it is being fiscally responsible," Ray Pacheco said at the end of the two-and-a-half-hour bimonthly meeting.
Shawn Johnson voted against it, too, adding that the recent decline in oil prices has created a queasy economic climate and the city needs to be cautious in its spending.
The million-dollar price tag, which included signage improvements such as electronic outdoor marquees, made him balk, Johnson said after the meeting.
"And so I thought, there's no way that this is going to look good to the public if we vote 'yes' on a scoreboard update at the Events Center when we have so many other things that need updates," he said.
But Mayor Charlie Powell said after the meeting that Johnson, Pacheco and Robin Mundell were elected in November and weren't aware of the background. Council members Daniel Sandoval and Craig Hedquist, who are in the third year of their four-year terms, also voted against the scoreboard improvements.
The $1 million was not from the city's budget, but rather from the "consensus monies" from the state that is allocated to counties and their municipalities, Powell said.
The local governmental entities will get together and decide what their priorities should be, such as a new town hall, he said. "We try to work together on those things and help each other get projects done that are priorities.
Last year, the subject of the aging original scoreboard of the nearly 40-year-old Events Center came up, Powell said. "It is hard to repair; it is hard to get parts for anymore; and it's just an antiquated way to handle a facility of this size."
But people roll their eyes when they see that much money for a big-ticket item, Powell said. "But if you parcel that out over 40 years, it is not a huge expense given the maintenance a facility that size requires over the years."
Casper has been rebuilding the Events Center over the past decade with a new roof and other major improvements, he said.
"The scoreboard was sort of the last thing that hadn't been taken care of," Powell said. "And so we had a very extensive discussion over that and said, 'let's finish it, and let's do it right, and let's have this be a state-of-the-art facility so when someone comes to Casper and goes to the Events Center they see it as we want it to be seen.'"
Besides the improvements themselves, councilman Steve Cathey said the major point of having new signage was to sell advertising and make money for the Events Center. The scoreboard improvements were supposed to be done in June before the College National Finals Rodeo and the accompanying shot to Casper's economy.
Johnson said the new information persuaded him to continue discussions about the electronic signage improvements.
"I'm all for revisiting it if they want to," he said.