ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs City Council is still unsure whether it will support a sixth-penny special purpose tax initiative. The Council plans to discuss the tax more at a special meeting Wednesday.
During a recent Rock Springs City Council meeting, the Council was updated on the sixth-penny tax discussions taking place with Sweetwater communities from Councilor Keaton West. West is the Council’s liaison on the sixth penny tax committee.
West said the Council is getting pressure from those who attend the Sweetwater County Intergovernmental meetings and outlying communities to commit its support to a sixth-penny special purpose tax initiative.
He asked his fellow Councilors how they wanted him to proceed as the liaison so he could report back to the committee.
All of the outlying communities in Sweetwater County are on board with pursuing a one penny special use tax, West said. However, they have not had any public discussion and have not voted on it.
“Everyone wants to move forward, but it’s somewhat hinging on Rock Springs,” West said. “They don’t believe it can pass without Rock Springs.”
He also noted the recent failure of the proposed one-penny general-purpose tax initiative recently voted on during a special election in November.
“I think we all believe it’s important. We have plenty of needs…,” West said.
West said the communities are being asked to take another look at their list of sixth-penny projects and see if they want to make adjustments. The City of Rock Springs had around $42 million in projects on that list.
Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo said he supports moving forward with the tax, but he wanted to know if a cap had been determined yet.
West said they are still discussing it and no decisions have been made, however, there were varying opinions on that particular topic.
“I was getting pressured to reach out to you guys via email or a phone call to get a consensus and I just feel like that’s not the proper process. It should be public. It should be open and we should debate it back and forth and get a general consensus,” West said.
West said he felt conflicted because he doesn’t support the tax but was trying to represent what he thought the Council wanted.
“It’s needed but I think the general purpose tax has altered the success rate of the specific purpose tax, especially when given the tight timeline. It’s only a year away,”Rock Springs City Councilor Keaton West
“I listened in on the last meeting and I’ve got to give Councilor West big kudos because I think he handled himself extremely well in front of some pretty forceful people,” Councilor Brent Bettolo said.
Bettolo is also concerned with the timing of this tax. He said they need to come up with a long-term solution for the ambulance services, but a special purpose tax for ambulance service is something he could support.
West said if the Council decides to move forward with the tax he may need to be replaced as the liaison to the special purpose tax board since he doesn’t support it.
Kaumo said if the city doesn’t at least look at the projects and put them in front of the voters they will never get done. He feels it should be left up to the voters to decide what to support.
The Council decided to host two special meetings on Wednesday, December 15, via Google meet to discuss the special purpose tax from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and the ambulance service from 5:15-6:15 p.m.
To listen to the entire discussion, see the video below. The discussion starts around 23 minutes.