News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
1 percent sales tax only way to solve our infrastructure problems
Aug 28, 2012 - Ron Warpness, Mayor, Riverton
I am writing in support of the 1 percent optional tax that is being proposed by the Fremont County and all of the municipalities within the county.
In the Ranger the other day I read a comment that caught my eye: "A person that would vote himself a tax increase is an idiot."
I guess that I stand guilty as charged, as, in my opinion, this is a tax that I am going to vote for and one that is very badly needed. Apparently all of the commissioners and the council members of all of the municipalities felt the same way, as they all unanimously voted to place this tax on the ballot.
I am not so naive as to think that they will all vote for it when the "curtain is pulled" but that is the position that they have represented to the public to this point.
It should also be noted that the very first Riverton City Council goal for 2012 is "Define Strategy To Pass The 1 percent Optional Sales Tax."
The problem seems to stem from the fact that a few years ago the Wyoming Legislature "capped" the amount of mineral severance royalties that flowed to the municipalities. However, they forgot to cap the ongoing cost of doing business for the cities, which continued to rise.
The Legislature then took the tax off of unprepared food, which I think all of us supported, with the understanding that they would "backfill" that loss of revenue to the cities with tate monies. To this date that has not been done.
With the loss of those two revenue streams, it has made it very hard to provide for the services that we all need and expect, such as road, water and sewer line repair, what we refer to as "infrastructure."
This tax that we are proposing will help with those infrastructure needs. The money from this tax, if we have the wisdom to pass it, can only be used on infrastructure. The estimated income to the county will be approximately 7 million per year, or $28 million, over the four-year term of the tax. It will be distributed across the entire county based on population, so all of us will benefit from those monies. It is estimated that 30 percent of the revenue will come from the traveling public "tourist."
Just envision what $28 million worth of employment spread across our county can mean to our contractors, their employees and our citizens.
I suppose that if we choose to not vote ourselves a tax and be "geniuses rather than idiots," then we can wait for someone else to pay for our necessities, but that is not the way that my parents taught me to be a responsible adult.
I can tell you that our county and cities have serious infrastructure needs that are not going to be met any other way than a tax such as this.