The Saratoga Sun -

CCCOG talks cents

Fifth and Sixth penny taxes discussed at full Carbon County Council of Governments meeting

 


“This is one of the largest groups of people I have ever seen at one of these meetings,” Steve Nicholson, the Chair of Carbon County Council of Governments (CCCOG), said Sept. 20 at the CCCOG meeting.

Over 30 people attended the meeting with representatives from most municipalities. Saratoga and Baggs did not have representatives present.

The minutes from the past three meetings were approved as was the treasurer’s report.

New business was a presentation on the Specific Purpose (6th Penny) Tax by Barbara Bonds, of Freudenthal & Bonds, P.C.

According to Pence and McMillan, LLC, a Wyoming law firm where Bonds is a counsel, Bonds has 37 years of experience in tax-exempt municipal finance. She has served as bond counsel, disclosure counsel, tax counsel, underwriter’s counsel, issuer’s counsel, trustee’s counsel, or a combination of those roles in various areas of municipal bond law, including general obligation, revenue, special assessment, and conduit financings. Bonds has represented the State of Wyoming, the University of Wyoming, cities, towns, counties, school districts and joint powers boards.

“I know a lot of you and we’ve worked together before,” Bonds said as she started.

After the presentation, Elk Mountain Mayor Morgan Irene asked, “One of the discussions we have had several times, is do we let a specific purpose tax fall off after the project is completed and so fulfill a promise we made and it goes away and start all over—or do we try to get ahead of the game and ask to approve it before it’s done?” .

Bonds said voters don’t like permanent taxes and if there is continuation of the tax, it sends a message of a never ending tax.

She said the flip side is that a continuation of a tax would be easier on vendors because they wouldn’t have to reprogram all their machines to get rid of it. Then, if another tax is approved, the machines must be changed again. She also pointed out that any over-collection of funds from one project to another are put aside by a municipality’s treasurer for use by that municipality.

Irene said the council understands the value of keeping money coming in, but knows voters in general don’t want a continuation.

“We are accountable to the voters and with all that is going on with the state. It is going to be sticky at best to tell them we want a tax continued after a project is done,” Irene said.

Other members of the council agreed.

“The projects are very important, so if you come back with infrastructure projects that are meaningful, they will likely get passed,” Encampment Mayor Greg Salisbury said. “The one tax we don’t want to put in jeopardy is our 5th penny tax, because that is our general fund tax.”

There was vocal agreement for Salisbury’s comment by CCCOG members.

“Plus if we let it fall off, we are able to say to voters, we did what we said,” Irene said. “We can say we did what we said we would do—and now we need a tax for this project. It gives us a little more credibility.”

The consensus of the council after listening to Bonds and discussing the subject, was that it would be best to let a specific purpose tax fall off once a project was done.

Toward the end of the meeting, Carbon County Clerk Gwynn Bartlett told the council of the impacts money coming from the Boswell Springs Wind project could bring to the county and the towns of Medicine Bow, Elk Mountain and Hanna.

The next scheduled CCCOG meeting will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 in Rawlins.

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