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May 10, 2011 7:45 am

Fifth-penny tax on hold

Written by CJ Baker

Powell leaders want more time to refine and drum up support for a possible fifth cent sales tax before sending it to voters.

At a meeting last month, Mayor Scott Mangold had said he wanted a special election this November where voters would mull authorizing a fifth-penny of sales tax in Park County to help fund local governments.

But after hearing concern from Cody officials that the process was moving too quickly, Mangold said he’ll now shoot for the measure being placed on the general election ballot in November 2012.

To get a tax on a ballot, two of the three county municipalities — Powell, Cody and Meeteetse — and the Park County Commission have to give the OK.

“While I’m sure that we could get a majority vote on the resolution (creating a special election this year), it is very important that we have everyone vehemently on board and not dragged into the discussion,” Mangold wrote in an email to the Tribune last week. “The City of Cody is a key on getting the project under way and without their enthusiastic support, it won’t work.”

Further, Mangold said waiting until 2012 — a presidential election year — will result in a better turnout and an informed electorate.

While Powell recently completed a survey in which a narrow majority of responding residents indicated they were open to paying for citizen-supported special projects through a 1-cent sales tax, Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown said her city didn’t have that kind of data yet.

“For us, it’s just premature, I think,” Brown said in an interview, adding that Cody is happy to begin talking about it.

Brown described a local fifth-cent tax as a possible “self-help approach to some of our infrastructure” needs, instead of relying on state legislators for money.

She said it will take a lot of communication and education beforehand to make sure a possible fifth-cent tax is presented to voters in a good and thoughtful way.

“I think in a situation like this the county’s probably only going to have one opportunity,” Brown said. If the tax were to fail, “I think it would be quite a while before you could take it back to the voters,” she said.

A committee of Park County, Powell, Cody and Meeteetse government officials and local citizens will be assembled to hone a fifth-cent tax proposal, Mangold said.

He said such a committee could be formed by next month.

One of the group’s most important tasks will be putting together a list of what projects a fifth-penny tax would fund in its first two years, to “present to voters exactly what we’re (proposing) spending money on,” Mangold said in an interview.

If passed, the tax would need to be re-authorized in two years, then every four years after that.

“We’d like to get the pressing needs done and, in my opinion at least, that’s our roads,” Mangold said, saying the city has a more than $4 million wish list just for street projects.

During last month’s meeting, Mangold had also cited funding for the Powell Aquatic Center and golf course as pressing concerns.

About 20.6 percent of residents responding to Powell’s earlier survey supported using a 1-cent tax for special funding requests, such as for recreation.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link May 11, 2011 6:54 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Looks like they finally figured out that ALL people here do NOT want more taxes. Maybe they better start acting like the conservatives they claim to be,instead of tax & spend RINO's.

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