RS Council discusses proposed special purpose tax projects

ROCK SPRINGS – After deciding to stop pursuing the 2020 Special Purpose Tax Initiative due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, Rock Springs City Council is re-launching these conversations for the proposed special purpose tax initiative for 2022.

At a special board meeting tonight, the board reviewed its 2020 special purpose tax priority list to see if these proposed projects are still viable for the 2022 special purpose tax vote initiative.

Councilor Keaton West, who is the Council’s liaison on the Special Tax Committee, led the discussion.

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“Obviously it may not be set in stone, but the more prepared we are the better,” West said.

Last year, the city’s final claim was $ 29.36 million. Of that amount, $ 22.5 million came from the city’s own projects.

“I just thought it would be wise for us to sort of come back and review some of these…” West said.

City of Rock Springs Tentative Priority List (numbers 7 and 8 added tonight)

  1. Water harvesting facility odor control / improvement project: $ 4 million
  2. NE RS Holding Basin: $ 2.5 million
  3. Various sewer projects: $ 5 million
  4. Various water projects: $ 5 million
  5. Various stormwater projects: $ 5 million
  6. Miscellaneous Gateway and Greenbelt Beautification Upgrades: $ 1 million
  7. Killpecker Creek Project: $ 5.2 million
  8. Parks and recreation projects: $ 14.3 million

After reviewing the list, West asked Paul Kauchich, director of engineering and operations, if he needed to update the priority list. Kauchich said everyone on the list is still a priority for the city, and they might even add more.

“Of course we have millions to make. I think we should just leave them at 5 (million dollars), ”Kauchich said of the water, sewer and stormwater projects.

Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo asked if the Killpecker Creek drainage project could be added to the list. Kauchich said if the Council wanted it added to the list, it would add it. Later in the meeting, Kauchich said he got a chance to see how much the project would cost and that it would be around $ 5.2 million.

Representative Clark Stith (R-Rock Springs) said he believes the Killpecker Creek project could be a great way for the city to seek federal or state funding for it the city could provide some sort of match. He said the Legislature would meet this summer to decide how to spend $ 1 billion and that this project could be a project it approves. He said the timing would work because the Legislature would make a decision before the project was put on the ballot.

Kaumo said the needs of the Parks and Recreation Department are issues that Council will have to address at some point, otherwise it will simply leave the issues to another Council to deal with.

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Dave Lansang had completed a long list of all the projects to be carried out across the city, which totaled $ 14.3 million. The Council asked Lansang to review all of these projects and choose its top five priorities.

Lansang said he had provided the Council with the full list of improvements so they would know all there was to do. He said the recreation department hasn’t really completed any capital projects since 2008-09.

Amounts and duration of the tax

As for the amount of the tax initiative, the last time around, Sweetwater County commissioners capped claims at $ 80 million, saying taxpayers may not support a tax that exceeds four to five years. At that point, it would have taken four and a half years to get $ 80 million. Now, it will take five and a half years to raise the $ 80 million.

Councilor Rob Zotti said if the tax goes on for too long, it ties the city’s hands if a bigger project comes along. He will not support a tax of up to 10 years, for example.

West agreed that the special purpose tax was supposed to help get the projects done, and then stop to give taxpayers a break. He said it was not meant to be an “eternal” tax.

The Council also discussed the duration of the tax initiative. The Council all agreed that it would support a tax that would disappear after five to six years.

They also all agreed that they would build their priority list around what the Commission sees as the “cap” of the tax. Without knowing what to work with, there isn’t much else they can do right now.

In terms of sponsorship projects, only one, the expansion of the YWCA building, remains in contention on the city’s previous list.

Financial assistance for the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Commercial Terminal, in the amount of $ 3.36 million, was cut because the airport is funding the project through grants.

During the meeting, Rock Springs resident Heather Anderson, who has been a strong supporter of the $ 13 million multi-use recreation facility, said she will not be reintroducing the project due to current economic conditions. Anderson has spoken out in favor of any recreation or park project the city may add to the list.

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