ICYMI: You'll decide on the 1 % sales tax this fall

In a joint meeting between the Jackson Town Council and the Teton County Board of County Commissioners last week, the community’s elected officials approved a resolution to place an additional 1% of General Revenue Sales Tax on the November 8, 2016, general election ballot. Should the General Revenue Sales Tax ballot initiative be successful, collections would begin in April 2017. "It's just not right to sit on our hands and do nothing,” said Mayor Sara Flitner. “I know a few of us preferred SPET, but I'm going to hold my nose, and feel good about compromising. Let's work together to get badly needed resources in place for our town." Currently visitors to the area and residents are taxed at a rate of 6%. Of this tax rate, 4% is collected by the State of Wyoming with a portion redistributed back to communities, 1% is imposed as a 5th cent of general revenue sales tax split between Teton County (55%) and the Town of Jackson (45%), and the remaining 1% is currently imposed through the Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) for specific community identified projects. It is estimated that visitors to the valley contribute approximately 60% of money generated by this sales tax dedicated for SPET projects. “This is not a tax increase,” stated Town Manager Bob McLaurin. “If the residents vote in favor of this 1% General Revenue Sales Tax the sales tax will remain at 6%. Furthermore it should be noted that visitors pay roughly two-thirds of this tax and that food is not taxed.” In 1973 residents of Teton County and the Town of Jackson voted in favor of the 5th cent of General Revenue Sales Tax and this tax became permanent in 2002. This cent of sales tax is used by the Town (45%) and County (55%) for general operation purposes with the Town historically utilizing a portion of these funds for capital improvements. Over the years, SPET projects have been funded with the 6th cent of sales tax. In 2014 residents voted in favor of this additional 6th cent of SPET to be used toward 5 specific projects voted on by residents of the community. These projects included 1) Fire/EMS Station Improvements, 2) Complete Streets, Sidewalks, Utilities and Storm Water Improvements, 3) South Park Loop Pathway from 3 Creek to Melody Ranch, 4) North Cache Pedestrian Streetscape Improvements and 5) Master Plan Downtown Storm Water Collection and Conveyance System. It is anticipated that the funding for the 2014 SPET initiatives will be fulfilled in the near future. Once the funding for the 2014 SPET initiatives has been satisfied, collections for these initiatives will cease. On March 15, 2016 the Town Council and County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to place a SPET proposition on the primary election ballot in August of 2016 to fund the stabilization of the landslide above West Broadway. Should this SPET initiative be successful, this would maintain the 6 cent tax that is currently in place. If voters elect to support the West Broadway SPET initiative in August, it is anticipated that the $6 million needed to stabilize the Town’s portion of the hillside will be generated and collected prior to April of 2017 at which time collections for this SPET will cease. If the voters approve the General Revenue Sales Tax in November the sales tax can be used for general purposes by both the Town and the County in an effort to focus on community issues such as housing and transportation. Town and County elected officials will consider a Policy Resolution dedicating funding generated from the revenue of this 1 cent general sales tax for the identified community priorities of housing and transportation at an upcoming meeting. Should the SPET initiative for landslide remediation pass in August and the General Revenue Sales Tax initiative pass in November, based on the current collection projections, the current 6% sales tax would remain constant. A number of variables may affect the tax rate remaining at 6% including whether voters support the August SPET initiative, whether voters support the November General Revenue Sales Tax Resolution, and whether sales tax collections remain consistent with current trends. #buckrail #news