News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Governments pledge transparency as new sales tax takes effect
Nov 20, 2012 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
The passage of the optional 1 percent tax and developments at Wind River Transit Authority were the focus of the Nov. 15 meeting of the Fremont County Association of Governments.
An optional 1 percent sales tax increase passed in the Nov. 6 election. County government and municipalities will use the new tax revenue for infrastructure improvements.
About 12 representatives of municipalities, Fremont County, the Citizens for Improved Roads political action committee and the WRTA met at Ginny's Roost in Pavillion. The elected officials began by thanking each other for their work to get the tax passed.
"We appreciate the efforts on the 1 (per)cent tax," Riverton City Council member Rich Gard said. "We have a lot of thanks to all the people involved."
Shoshoni and Pavillion mayors Scott Peters and Gary Hamlin, respectively, echoed his comments.
"I'm impressed with the public's trust in us," Hamlin added.
The group also discussed publicizing how they use the tax.
"Our plan for the county is every six months to release a report on the tax collected and what it goes toward," Commissioner Travis Becker said.
Gard offered a suggestion he has heard, that officials should place signs near any project funded by the new sales tax to make sure citizens know how the money is being used.
"The Lander City Council passed a resolution (to do that)," Lander Mayor Mick Wolfe said.
Becker asked how much the signs cost.
"Is that what the tax payers are paying for?" he asked.
Wolfe said such signs could be very simple and inexpensive. He said he thinks it is important the public knows what projects the tax pays for.
"This is going to come up in four years," said Wolfe.
WRTA transportation manager Ben Eastmond said the bus line will soon launch a trial of compressed natural gas technology. The trial will test examine the price of using the alternative fuel. He said WRTA will operate two new vans of the same make and model -- one will run on CNG and the other on petroleum. The bus line will track the cost of fuel and maintenance for each method.
"We can do a good trial of the natural gas technology and see if it will be useful to us," Eastmond said. "I think we will have a good idea of results after one year. ... We'll be able to see how it works in all seasons."
Eastmond said that grants from Encana and the Wyoming Department of Transportation paid for the two new vans. Typically, he said, WyDOT covers 80 percent of the cost of WRTA's vehicles, but 20 percent must come from local sources. A grant from Encana paid for the 20 percent for both new vans.
Eastmond said they have the petroleum powered van licensed, plated and registered. It just needs signage before it can begin operating. The CNG van is awaiting the CNG conversion at a factory in Illinois, he said.
Finally, Hamlin said FCAG cannot locate a steam roller the organization owns.
Twila Blakeman of Dubois said, "We may have it."