Funding discussed for Rec and Community Centers
Big Piney/Marbleton Recreation Center and the Pinedale Community Center projects
by Jo Crandall
July 11, 2008
Representatives from the Big Piney/Marbleton Recreation Center Board and the Pinedale Community Center met with the Sublette County Commission on July 1 to discuss funding strategies for their respective projects.
Todd Bishop of Kaiser and Company, a Cheyenne investment banking and service firm that specializes in helping governments prepare tax initiatives, provided information on the 1% Special Purpose Excise Tax (SPET). If approved by 2/3 of the incorporated communities, and the county, this tax proposition will appear on the November, 2008, ballot.
Bishop indicated that the tax would generate about $19 million per year in Sublette County, with the vast majority of that tax paid by the natural gas industry. Bishop also explained that state law requires the tax automatically stop once the costs associated with the projects are raised.
Following the meeting, Commission Chair Bill Cramer said, "I have felt for a long time that these two projects should be on the ballot for a special purpose excise tax. This accomplishes two things: it gives us the best sense of the public support for the projects and it provides the funding for construction and operating and maintenance going forward. I view these as worthwhile projects, but they are wants and not needs, and thus I have had a problem providing full funding via the general fund. The county and the three incorporated towns have met and decided that these two projects are the ones we would ask the public to consider."
The two groups have formed a steering committee with Angie Smith of Big Piney and Jo Crandall of Pinedale serving as co-chairs. Using privately donated funds they will work to answer questions about the projects and to promote a "yes" vote for the proposed initiative in November.
Smith and Crandall both agree that it is important that voters understand what needs the two facilities address for community residents. They also feel it crucial that voters understand this sales tax is a special purpose excise tax. The total amount of the money raised stays in Sublette County and is only for the two projects.
"Once the specified amount of money needed to build and maintain the faculties has been raised, the tax will go away," Smith said.