Casper City Hall is 41 years old and it’s showing its age, especially when it comes to safety.

City council heard at a work session Tuesday the preliminary ideas for reworking the central building for Casper's government.

“This is the first discussion of many that we’re going to have,” Mayor Charlie Powell said.

Earlier this year, council hired the architectural firm Stateline No. 7 to evaluate what needs to be done, how it will be done, and how to pay for it.

Stateline No. 7 architect Lyle Murtha showed council what could be done on both floors and the exterior of City Hall.

Buildings like this have a 50-year life expectancy, Murtha said.

These were some of the objectives of the new design:

  • Fix exterior and interior areas for safety for employees and visitors.
  • Improve parts of the fire suppression system that violate the fire code.
  • Fix problems on both floors that hinder customer service and efficient service.
  • Fix areas that aren’t in compliance with 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act regulations in bathrooms and other access issues.
  • Add space to accommodate current and future staffing needs.
  • Improve the exterior to be more inviting to visitors and direct them to a primary entrance, and provide better space for employee breaks.
  • Add general maintenance improvements with flooring, lighting and paint.
  • Improve failing heating, ventilation and air conditioning duct work.
  • Improve the lighting and the atrium.

To do all of this would cost slightly more than $3 million, which is cheaper than to build a new city hall for $10 million, according to a memo to City Manager Carter Napier from the city’s support services director Tracey Belser and risk and facilities manager Zulima Lopez.

Council member Ken Bates noted that these improvements would be on top of the city's need for a new police station and a new fire station.

All are important, but the city needs to set priorities, especially how to pay for it all, Bates said.

The city council already has seen aside $450,000 from Optional One-cent Sales Tax No. 16 revenues to pay for it, according to the memo.

Other funding would come from selling some city-owned buildings, but that won’t happen until the new state office building is completed, Napier said.

For a new police station, Napier said the city would need to put together a proposal for a temporary sales tax that would need the support of the other municipalities in Natrona County.

“I have a little more work to do before I bring you a [proposal],” he said.

Napier said the major part of this is to harden the building for the safety of visitors and employees, but it’s also important to consider concerns about ADA compliance and the aging HVAC system.

In 10 years, it won’t be cheaper, he said. “Paying us now or paying us later is a really relevant issue.”

Council member Bob Hopkins doesn’t want to see the city to go the route of some school districts in the state that put off making necessary renovations that cost more in the long run.