At the Casper City Council meeting on Tuesday, the council agreed to have city manager Carter Napier consider a cost of living (COLA) and step increase for city employees.

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Napier showed to the council what impact on the budget a COLA and step increase would have, with the cost to the city being up to $2,476,942 if there's a 3% COLA increase and a 5% step increase.

The council agreed that because of the large inflation that is being seen across the country, a COLA increase is even more important to consider to help out city employees.

Part of this had to do with the Graves study that was completed and shared with the council last year, which showed that employees of Casper are paid under what many peer cities pay, necessitating the city to increase pay to its employees.

Councilmember Bruce Knell said city employees are a great asset to the city, and so they should be rewarded with an increase in pay.

"I would like to think our greatest asset is our people, so I think a COLA is certainly in order," Knell said. "I also think, like Amber said, following the Graves study is in order...for me, I guess, a lot of this is really going to depend on where the rest of the budget comes in and with this being our greatest asset, it seems to me like something that we're certainly going to have to look at really hard. So I'm certainly a proponent of both for our employees, the COLA and getting back to the Graves. But it'll be interesting to see how this all fits in on our budget."

The council also considered a one-time payment of $1,000, which would increase the budget by around $200,000, but decided against looking into that at this time but may revisit at future budget sessions.

Not included in the analysis is the $300,000 that the city will be paying over the next 20 years to pay for certain firefighter pensions based on a bill that was recently passed by the Wyoming legislature.

In the end, the council agreed to have Napier consider a COLA and step increase when they look at the budget in May, but the final decision on what kind of increase the council will agree to or what percent COLA the city will approve will be decided at a later date.

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