Mar 31, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterSales tax rates in Fremont County will increase to 5 percent from 4 percent on Monday, five months after voters approved an optional 1 percent sales tax in November.
County Commissioners unanimously approved putting the resolution on the ballot March 13, 2012. The measure squeaked by on Nov. 6 with a vote of 8,390 for and 8,055 against.
Fremont County's six municipalities and county government will split the tax's revenue. Government is restricted to using revenue from the optional 1 percent sales tax only for infrastructure projects, including roads, sewers and water lines.
The tax will be up for a vote again in 2016. Some goods will be exempt from the tax, such as groceries.
The City of Riverton estimates it will receive about $1.8 million a year from the tax, but only $120,000 between now and the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.
City administrator Steven Weaver said $1.8 million can sound like a lot, but it could take that much funding to rebuild one road.
Weaver said the city has set up mechanisms to track 1 percent tax monies using a separate fund that was set up to receive the special tax revenue.
"It will be very transparent, and it won't be spent on anything else (besides infrastructure)," Weaver said. "That's what we promised the public, and that's what we plan to do."
He said a committee of citizens has begun meeting twice a month to advise the city on use of the tax's funds.
"We want (ideas) coming from the citizens and not staff," he said.
The nine-person group is called the Fix Our Roads Citizen Committee. Weaver said the group has met twice so far to discuss uses of the 1 percent tax revenue.
The direction emerging from FORCC so far has been to focus on sealing cracks and completing other maintenance projects this year, Weaver said, adding that the group wants to wait until next year before starting more expensive construction.
He said the city will need time to accumulate enough money for more costly projects, because the construction season only runs from the summer to early fall.
To the future
For the long term, the citizens committee is looking at combining less-expensive work -- chip sealing, overlaying new asphalt, and sealing cracks to lengthen the of life of roads -- with the replacement of totally worn out roads.
The citizens committee meets every other Monday morning in the Riverton City Council chambers at City Hall, 816 N. Federal Blvd.
Weaver said the group always has time in its agenda for public comment, and residents are welcome to come and offer their ideas. The next meeting is April 8.
The committee also accepts public comment via its e-mail address, email@example.com.
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