News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Optional 1 percent tax an effective, equitable way to raise needed funds
Oct 13, 2012 - By Steven Weaver, Gary M. Michaud
By now we hope Fremont County residents are aware there will be an optional 1percent initiative on the November ballot for the purpose of repairing streets, roads, water, and sewer throughout Fremont County.
This initiative was proposed by all the municipalities and allowed on the ballot by the Fremont County Commissioners.
It is a fact our local streets and roads are in dire need of repairs. Lander officials estimate $17 million in severe street repair needs, while Riverton has $22 million in needs.
Meanwhile, the county has produced a list of more than $72 million in needs to maintain approximately 950 miles of roads and bridges. Local government budgets continue to feel significant effects from the economic recession and are unable to keep up with these needs.
As a result, we are proposing the optional 1percent, which would provide approximately $7 million annually for infrastructure repairs and prove to state funding agencies that our communities and county are willing to help ourselves.
Several months ago, all Fremont County local governments approved resolutions committing the entire 1percent optional funding to the repair of local infrastructure. These resolutions also commit to placing the measure to a countywide vote in four years. Additionally, Riverton and Lander are committed to using citizen committees to identify projects and placing all funds in a separate account to be used solely for infrastructure repairs.
Fremont County is one of only three counties in the state without an optional 1 percent tax, and many counties charge 2 percent in additional taxes. In effect, by purchasing goods in their cities we are building their infrastructure while we gain nothing from them.
It is important to note that if the optional 1 percent is approved all groceries and other exemptions will remain exempt.
The optional 1percent also collects funds equitably from all system users, visitors and residents alike.
Currently, local governments in Fremont County receive only 30 percent of sales and use taxes collected in Fremont County. If the optional 1 percent is approved, all funds collected will be available to repair our streets and roads except for a very minimal administration fee charged by the state.
We would like to thank you for your consideration to maintain our public roads and streets.
City of Riverton
Gary M. Michaud
Community Resource Coordinator
City of Lander