SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commission set the preliminary cap on the Special Purpose Tax, also known as the 6th penny tax, during its meeting Tuesday.
After discussion over amounts to set the cap and corresponding duration it would take to collect those revenues, the Commission settled on $90 million. According to current calculations and projections, this 6th penny amount would take about seven years to collect.
This is a preliminary cap, which means it is a starting point for county entities to prepare plans for projects. This 6th penny tax initiative is meant to appear on the ballot for constituents to vote in November 2022. If passed, the tax was be effective at that date and the County would start receiving collections in April 2023.
Sweetwater County Treasurer Robb Slaughter said that after meeting with the Wyoming Department of Revenue, they found that had there been a 6th penny tax initiative over the past five months, the County would have collected about $1 million each month. That means there would have been about $100,000 collected over the past five months.
Using these calculations, a five-year tax would collect about $60 million and an eight-year tax would collect about $100 million. However, Slaughter said there is an expected “slight uptick” in sales tax revenues to occur, which means it would take less time to collect those amounts of revenue.
The major concern for Slaughter, the Commission, and Rock Springs Councilor Keaton West is the duration of the tax. West pointed out that everyone’s needs are ever-growing, but a little bit of special purpose tax revenue is better than none.
“We’re fearful that by going anything more than that five to six year range that we might lose it altogether,” Keaton said of the Rock Springs City Council’s take on the tax.
Commissioner Roy Lloyd agreed that though the money is needed for projects, he wasn’t sure the voters would pass a tax that lasted longer than six years.
“We definitely need that amount of money but the question is, is it going to pass that many years with the voters?” Lloyd said.
Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld also said they need to be careful with going “too big” on the ballot to ensure they get at least some tax revenue collected.
“I really truly believe that our communities absolutely 100 percent need this money to do these infrastructure projects that we’ve been holding on for years,” she said.
Lloyd suggested the lowest amount, at about $77 million for the tax, as that would take about six years to collect. Schoenfeld suggested the largest cap at $100 million, which would take about eight years to collect. The average of the suggested caps was about $90 million, which led to the Commissioners settling on setting the preliminary cap at $90 million.
Next, the Commission had to decide how much percentage of the collected revenues to allocate to the County entities. The following are preliminary percentages and amounts allocated to the entities for them to build out their project plans.
- Rock Springs: 46 percent of the total collections — roughly $41.4 million
- Green River: 26.5 percent of the total collections — roughly $23.85 million
- Sweetwater County: 20 percent of total collections — roughly $18 million
- Wamsutter: 2.5 percent of total collections — roughly $2.25 million
- Superior: 2 percent of total collections — roughly $1.8 million
- Bairoil: 1.5 percent of total collections — roughly $1.35 million
- Granger: 1.5 percent of total collections — roughly $1.35 million
The above entities will have to discuss with their own governing bodies which projects are necessary for their communities that they can accomplish with the preliminary allocations. However, Commissioner Schoenfeld said these amounts are flexible. She said if an entity only needs a portion of their allocation to accomplish a project, rather than having them come up with another project to fill their allocation, she would like to allocate that leftover money to another entity.