SPET proposals: penny saved, penny earned
Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Each year about $10 million dollars is collected from the sixth penny on Teton County’s 6 percent sales tax. The Specific Purpose Excise Tax uses that money to fund voter-approved projects. A simple majority vote (50 percent +1) passes the project.
Most SPET proposals go through without a hitch since the tax already exists. Plus, Teton County advertises that the SPET makes tourists pay their fair share for the burden they put on Jackson Hole infrastructure and services. Forty to 60 percent ofthe SPET fund comes from visitors buying goods. The alternative, Teton County suggests (or threatens?), is an increased mill levy on property taxes, which places the full burden on Jackson Hole residents.
This election, the Jackson Hole Tea Party is doing all they can to put a hitch in the projects, encouraging citizens to vote no on all SPET proposals. Not because they are categorically opposed to the tax structure, but because, they say, none of the current projects are worthy of SPET funding.
“We do not consider this year’s SPET propositions to be major, critical in nature, or a current ‘need’ (vs. ‘want’),” explained Ed Chermay, vice president of the Jackson Hole Tea Party. Instead, they would like to see all SPET projects fail so that the sixth penny on sales tax can expire, and SPET can be reformed.
In the somewhat unlikely scenario that none of the SPET proposals pass, sales tax would drop to 5 percent, but not until already committed projects are funded. As it stands, the sixth penny is already committed to past SPET projects through the summer of 2016. By then, we would already have more SPET projects coming through the pipeline, so the chances of residents seeing the sixth penny disappear are next to nil.
“We just don’t know if we’ve had sufficient time to educated the electorate regarding our views. We remain quite hopeful, but the deck is stacked against us,” Cheramy said.
On August 19th, voters get the chance to decide for themselves with a “yes” or “no” vote on the following 6 projects. Total cost of all six projects is $11 million dollars. Each project is voted on separately.
Proposition 1: Fire/EMS Station
$2,500,000 for the purpose of planning, designing, and engineering of Jackson Fire Station 1, Hoback Fire Station 3, Wilson Fire Station 2, and Moran Fire Station 4; and for remodel and construction of Jackson Fire Station 1.
Proposition 2: Complete Streets, Sidewalks, Utility and Storm Water
$2,250,000 for the purpose of planning, design, engineering and/or construction of complete street improvements on Gregory Lane, Snow King Avenue, Maple Way, Scott Lane, East Broadway Avenue, and Center Street.
Proposition 3: North Cache Pedestrian Streetscape Improvements
$1,000,000 for the purpose of planning, design, engineering and/or construction of complete street pedestrian improvements on North Cache to complete the missing link between the existing improved streetscape and the North 89 pathway completed in 2011. The area included in this project is the final 1200 feet of the east side of North Cache that remains inhospitable for biking and walking.
Proposition 4: South Park Loop Pathway from 3 Creek to Melody Ranch
$3,500,000 for the purpose of acquiring land and/or easements, the relocation and replacement of any impacted utilities, and for the cost of planning, engineering, and construction of a pathway and associated amenities from 3 Creek Ranch to Melody Ranch along South Park Loop Road.
Proposition 5: Master Plan Downtown Storm Water Collection and Conveyance System Improvements
$250,000 for the purpose of planning, design, and engineering downtown district master plan for the collection and discharge of storm water into Cache Creek storm water conveyance system.
Proposition 6: Fair Exhibit Hall Replacement
$1,500,000 for the purpose of planning, designing, engineering, constructing, converting, and remodeling the Open Air Livestock Pavilion space located at the Fairgrounds into a new Exhibit Hall, community meeting and event facility; and for the purpose of planning designing, engineering, constructing, converting, and remodeling the existing Fair Exhibit Hall to conform to a maintenance and storage building for Jackson/Teton County Parks and Recreation.