Proposed multimillion-dollar projects on Teton County, Wyo. ballot, explained

POSTED: 06:05 PM MDT Oct 29, 2012 
TETON COUNTY, Wyo. -

Putting pennies to good use is one of the biggest issues on the ballot in Teton County, Wyo.

Voters will weigh in on three multimillion-dollar projects to be paid for through a Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET).

A SPET is added onto the state sales tax and which helps fund projects within the community.

The Wyoming state sales tax is 4 percent, but it's 6 percent in Teton County because of SPETs already in place. 

State law prohibits the county from raising that tax any further, so the county is just asking about what it should do with the revenue.

County leaders are asking voters for the green light on three major projects, each of them funded by the SPET.

"This is an extension of that sixth penny (on the sales tax)," explained Teton County Commissioner Paul Perry.
 
Commissioners are unable to discuss their opinions on the projects, but they can explain why the three propositions are on the ballot.

Proposition No. 1 asks for $13,475,000 for the purchase of 10 acres of land in Jackson which is currently owned by the Bridger-Teton National Forest.  The proposition comes as the U.S. Forest Service has expressed interest in moving its supervisor office to Alpine.

"It is public property right now, and a lot of the community would like to see it remain in public hands," Perry said.  "But there is no set plan for the property, which many members of our community have been frustrated with."

Proposition No. 2 comes with a pricetag of $4.3 million.  It would further Teton County's goal to connect the community through bike paths, adding one along Highway 22.  The path would be a direct route from the Stilson Transit Center to the town of Jackson.

"As the tourists come to town, so many of them use (bike paths), so we think it's appropriate to put it on the ballot," Perry said.
        
The third proposition asks for $14,517,821 to close the Teton County landfill and plan a new trash, recycling and composting facility.  Perry said the Department of Environmental Quality has already gotten involved in this issue.

"We have contamination leaking into our groundwater, so we have to deal with it right now," Perry said.

If voters say "yes" to all three propositions, that brings the total cost to $32,292,821 dollars.

Perry estimates all three projects will take about three-and-a-half years to fund. When the projects are paid for, voters can decide to lower the sales tax to 5 percent.

Click here for more details on the SPET projects.