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1 percent tax ballot question amended

Aug 8, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

Fremont County commissioners want to eliminate confusion about when the 1 percent sales tax question would face voter renewal if passed. The item will appear on this year's general election ballot.

On Tuesday, commissioners unanimously supported an amendment to the ballot question's resolution that states the proposed additional 1 percent tax would return every four years starting in 2016.

Commission chairman Doug Thompson introduced discussion on the proposed amendment to the tax resolution by noting a "confusing statement about when it would come back up."

The amendment adds the year to the line: "If passed, the tax would be in place for a four (4) year term and resubmitted to the voters every other General Election year beginning 2016."

"It doesn't change the intent or anything," Thompson said about the amendment.

Fremont County voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to approve the proposed optional 1 percent sales tax that municipal and county government leaders have pledged to use solely on street, water and sewer projects.

If approved by voters, the countywide tax would raise the total sales tax to 5 percent for most purchases except groceries and other tax-exempt items.

Unlike the specific purpose excise tax that carries a set dollar amount for an identified project and ends roughly upon reaching that point, the general purpose tax would continue for as long as voters renew it.

Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese said the language clarification in the resolution came about while preparing the ballots for the November general election.

"That's when we were reading it aloud and putting it into the computer," Freese said.

The suggestion arose to amend the resolution to clarify the renewal process.

"I just don't want any confusion," Freese said.

Municipal governing bodies in Fremont County have already approved similar resolutions in support of placing the proposed tax on the general election ballot.

Freese said she would send an explanation about the change to the municipal councils.

Fremont County Association of Governments executive director Pamela Canham said Wednesday that the commission's action will be helpful to voters.

"I really appreciate that because (voter confusion) inevitably becomes one of the biggest issues," Canham said. "I really do appreciate the fact that they have helped clarify."

Municipal leaders continue to plan ways to gauge voter interest in the ballot proposal and provide information to them.

Fremont County Association of Governments monthly meetings involve discussion among the members about the 1 percent tax and work by the political action committee formed in support of the proposal.

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