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PAC raising support for 1 percent tax

Jun 30, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

The political action committee formed to handle campaign activities supporting the proposed 1 percent optional use tax is busy rallying construction-related businesses.

The PAC chairman David Myers said he sent out 100 letters to contractors, engineers, electricians, septic companies and other related businesses in hopes of getting their support for the proposed countywide tax that will appear on Fremont County ballots in November.

"We're putting some letters together to start going out to others that would benefit from improvements to roads," Myers told Fremont County Association of Governments members at their meeting June 21 in Pavillion. He said real estate firms could also benefit from the tax.

Municipal leaders and others at the meeting continued discussions about the proposed sales tax that would raise money for streets, water and sewer infrastructure repairs promised in resolutions passed by the local governments.

In the Nov. 6 general election, voters will decide whether to approve the optional tax. The measure would be in place for four years with an option to renew it every four years after that.

If approved, the extra 1 percent would raise the county's total sales tax to 5 percent for most purchases. Groceries and other items, such as farm equipment, are tax-exempt.

The letter by the political action committee, Citizens for Improved Roads, is part of plans to raise awareness of the tax's benefits to the county.

"As you are aware, all Fremont County municipalities and the County have agreed to place on this fall's ballot an optional one percent sales tax measure. That is being done with the promise to their constituents that this tax will be used to fund infrastructure projects with streets and roads being the top priority," according to the letter. "By the one percent providing monies for use on the streets and roads, the municipalities would be able to use their other funds on many of the badly needed infrastructure improvements on water and sewer," the letter states.

Targeting businesses that would benefit from the infrastructure work is part of the group's strategy.

"The passage of this sales tax initiative would have a direct impact on those of us in the Engineering, Surveying, and Contracting

businesses. This would help provide local work and hiring opportunities all across Fremont County," according to the letter.

City leaders are continuing to raise awareness in their own communities. Gary Michaud, the City of Lander's community resource coordinator, said activities have included going door-to-door with a survey asking residents for their street priorities.

"We're getting a very positive feedback," Michaud said.

He noted concerns from residents who live outside the municipalities.

"I think one of our biggest challenges will be what to do with the county residents," he said.

Lander Mayor Mick Wolfe said the local governments cannot campaign for the tax.

"We can put out facts. We cannot say vote this way or that. We can say this is what we're going to do, and we've all agreed on that," he said.

Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness said the city had a meeting that attracted about 40 citizens who talked about their infrastructure priorities and reported them on comment forms.

"We've gotten a lot of those back, documenting what the needs are," Warpness said.

He recommended supporters of the tax attending upcoming events such as Day in the Park in Riverton to distribute information to voters.

"I would like to see some kind of information table so we can start talking publicly about it," Warpness said. "One thing that I'm concerned about ... is our lack of branding of the product at this time."

Warpness suggested a logo or symbol that could help voters identify with the tax measure.

"I think we need that kind of a brand or icon so that we all know we're talking about the same thing," he said.

Another endeavor Warpness talked about involves creating a speakers group that will be able to address community groups such as Kiwanis and Rotary.

Anyone willing to donate or volunteer for the political action committee can contact Myers or Kyle Lehto at 856-1409 during the day or at 857-0123 in the evenings. They can also be reached by e-mail at citizensforimprovedroads@hotmail.com.

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