A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

Sales tax question not 'accosting' the voters

May 4, 2012 - Ron Warpness, Mayor, Riverton


In the Ranger on April 29, there was a letter to the editor with the heading "Sales tax initiative 'an insult to constituents and consumers.'"

This letter is in response to the title more than the content of that letter as (to be honest) I did not understand much of the writer's point.

It ranged from accosting the voters to Caligula's horse. It really lost me when the writer was talking about "... a socialist piddle match in an evaporation pool."

I did however want to take this opportunity to talk about the needs of our community and how to meet them.

As we all know the main source of revenue to the city is sales and use tax. The state establishes 4 percent sales tax across the state. For every dollar that the city collects in sales tax, we send a dollar to Cheyenne. The state returns approximately 30 cents to the county. The county then divides it across the county based on population. Riverton is about 24 percent of the population in Fremont Count, so we receive as our share about 7 cents for every dollar in tax that we generate.

If the 1 percent tax is passed, for every dollar that we generate and send to Cheyenne, 99 cents is returned to the county and is distributed across the county based on population. Once again, we will receive 24 percent of 99 cents, or 23 cents for every dollar that we generate, not 7 cents.

The way current state law reads, neither the cities nor the counties can, individually, impose a tax within their areas of jurisdiction. Any tax above the 4 percent state tax must be cooperatively placed on the ballot and voted on by the citizens.

As mayors and commissioners we are not "accosting the voters." Mayors are not "spooning" with commissioners. We are not offering salvation, only an opportunity for citizens to decide if they want to improve a part of their community in a way that is required by state law.

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