Council examines sixth penny tax

Kemmerer city administrator Andrew Nelson (right) shows the Kemmerer City Council the roads that could be improved with revenue from a potential county-wide sixth penny tax. Nelson distributed a Facebook survey asking residents what they would have the city do with any sixth penny tax revenue, and a majority of respondents said Kemmerer should use the money for road repairs. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)

The Kemmerer City Council discussed a potential countywide sixth penny sales tax in Lincoln County at the regular council meeting on Monday, Nov. 27.

Kemmerer City Administrator Andrew Nelson presented to the council about the tax and its potential benefits for the City of Kemmerer.

Nelson told the council and the public that the tax revenue could be at least $2 million for the city of Kemmerer.

“It depends on how the towns in the county communicate,” Nelson said. “unlike the fifth penny tax, the sixth penny tax revenue distribution is based on the projects each community wants to do, not the population.”

These discussions come at the same time that other municipal governments in Lincoln County are discussing what they would do with the revenue from a sixth penny sales tax.

There are several steps before the sixth penny sales tax in Lincoln County could become a reality. 

Each municipal government in Lincoln County, inluding Kemmerer, Diamondville, Cokeville, Opal, LaBarge, Afton, Alpine, Star Valley Ranch and Thayne, must pass a resolution detailing what the tax revenue will be used for.

Then the resolutions are brought to the Lincoln County Commissioners. If the commissioners pass the resolutions, the potential tax is placed on the ballot for the public to vote on.

According to Nelson, 15 of the 23 counties in Wyoming have a sixth penny tax.

“The goal of the projects this tax funds is to create an environment where businesses and residents want to be,” Nelson said.

Nelson and councilman Robert Bowen agreed that much of the sales tax would likely be paid by residents out-of-county or out-of-state visitors.

Nelson issued a Facebook survey about the sixth penny tax on Nov. 20. When the survey closed on Nov. 27, Nelson had received 50 responses.

The survey asked the responder what community they lived in and the question, “If you could choose one project to spend sixth penny tax dollars in your city / town, what would it be?”

More than 61 percent of Kemmerer survey respondents said they think the funds should be used for road improvements.

More than 14 percent of survey respondents said the funds should be used for upgrades to the parks and the recreation center. About 10 percent of survey respondents said they did not want a new tax.

Nelson agreed that the Facebook survey results echoed results of the Resident Satisfaction Survey distributed earlier this year.

“We heard roads, roads, roads, from that,” Nelson said, “And that’s what we heard here as well.”

The sixth penny tax is renewed every four years if the projects aren’t completed by then.

But once the projects are funded, the sixth penny tax goes away.

“OK, so if the 6th penny tax passes and we get the money, what road projects should we do?” Nelson.

He then outlined several road reconstruction projects that the City of Kemmerer could use the sixth penny tax revenue to fund.

•5th West from Elk St to Canyon Elementary

•Berry Drive in the  Dell Rio neighborhood – Nelson said the city could replace the road with asphalt instead of concrete, 

and that this could be a pilot project to see what would be needed for Dell Rio Road reconstruction

• finish Elk St to Canyon Road

• Canyon Road – Nelson said WYDOT is planning 2019 projects for the highway in front of Best Western, and the City could piggyback on those projects to potentially redo all of Canyon Road

• Triangle - Nelson said the roads in the Triangle aren’t as bad as some of the others, but the reconstruction could serve as a business development tool

• Lincoln Heights driving up to the elementary schools

Nelson said there are other “softer” projects that could use sixth penny tax money. Some of these projects were suggested in the Facebook survey and the resident satisfaction survey.

The softer projects include a splash pad, contributing funds to a new senior center, renovating the Wilcox building, and replacing equipment in city parks.

Nelson said the city’s next step for the sixth penny tax discussions is to obtain firm cost estimates for the road reconstruction projects.

“Other communities in Lincoln County are doing the same thing as they decide what they would use the money for,” Nelson said.

“It’s very unlikely that any of these big projects would happen without sixth penny money,” Nelson said. “If we’re not trying to help ourselves, the state is less likely to send grant money our way.”

If the sixth penny tax in Lincoln County passed on the 2018 ballot, the City wouldn’t get any money for at least a year.

“The tax is designed to finance projects within four years,” Nelson said.

What do you think about the sixth penny sales tax? If it passed on the ballot in Lincoln County, what do you think the funds should be used for?

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