Taxes & Funding
As a community, we share many common goals, all of which require significant funding. With state and federal wells running dry, the responsibility of funding community goals falls more and more on the shoulders of local governments. Below are listed a number of current and potential funding sources that I support. Click on the name to learn more.
It is estimated that over half of our sales tax is supported by visitors. As the voters decide whether to impose a seventh penny on our community, it is important to remember this critical fact. I believe that it is also important to remember that we are talking about extending our tax cost by $10 for each $1000 that we spend, hardly some game-changing increase. We continue to pay some of the lower sales tax rates in the nation (74% of counties nationwide pay more), yet we derive significant revenue from this source for both the Town and County General Funds. While I fear government inefficiency, I will be voting for the seventh penny.
SPET remains my favorite tax, as it is the only funding source that the public votes on directly. I supported many of the SPET initiatives on last year’s ballot, taking special interest in the maintenance facility for Town and County vehicles, the Gregory Lane project, the Cache Creek tube, and the wildlife crossings initiative. I believe that we should continue to take full advantage of our ability to tax our visitors, even if it costs locals a little along the way.
While one might think that our property taxes are mostly shouldered by locals, the fact that much of our County’s real estate is owned by out of town investors, paints things in a different light. Given that each mill levy generates about $1,700,000 in funding for the community and only costs property owners $100 for each $1,000,000 in value, I support the creation of a one mill levy dedicated to funding our critical mental health and human service providers. For more info on my support for these organizations, dive deeper HERE.
Within the state of Wyoming, Teton County has a unique relationship with its lodging tax. Unlike every other county in the state, which is only allowed to keep 10% of their lodging tax revenues, we in Teton County retain 40% of ours to mitigate for the effects of our visitor impacts. While this is a blessing for our county, the fact remains that the situation here is dramatically different from any other county in the state and should be treated accordingly. As Commissioner, I will continue to work with legislators in Cheyenne to explain why Teton County requires an even larger percentage of lodging tax revenues to be dedicated to mitigating visitor impacts.
As it currently stands, the County imposes a 2% lodging tax on visitors, and the state has added another 3% to fund their Travel and Tourism Board. The County is able to deploy an additional 2%, which I support completely. Our lodging taxes remain some of the lowest in the nation. I pay a larger rate when I visit my second store located in Lehi, UT, which I would hardly consider a tourist destination. I would also push state lawmakers to allow for other taxable opportunities directed at our visitors such as a rental car tax.
I support a graduated real estate transfer tax dedicated to supporting affordable workforce housing. When tackling our critical housing shortage, the biggest impediment is not having a dedicated funding source. We have found that mitigation rates on commercial development have proven largely ineffective in raising any significant revenue, as the rates are so high that they have effectively shut off commercial development, resulting in little additional funding for housing units. For a deeper dive into my positions on housing, please click HERE.
In order to deploy the housing that we need, especially housing serving those most in need, we must bring significant funding to bear, and a real estate transfer tax will work to put funding in the bank so that the Town and County can continue to develop robust housing projects. Again, a large portion of any real estate transfer tax would be paid by out of town investors. This tax could start at a miniscule .5% for properties under $500k and grow to a meaningful 3% for properties valued over $5M. Again, I will dedicate myself to working with lawmakers from across the state to explain why such a mechanism is critical for Teton County to address its unique set of problems.