Voters approved multi-million-dollar tax propositions Tuesday for public works in Sheridan, Niobrara and Crook counties but rejected new sales taxes in Park and Teton counties, according to preliminary results.
In Evanston, voters roundly rejected a $23 million school and community field-house bond issue, 68% to 32%, unofficial results show. Numerous counties voted to continue imposing lodging taxes on hotel rooms to promote tourism, including in Campbell County where voters approved a lodging tax boost from 2% to 4%.
In tax-averse Wyoming, voters backed a handful of new mill levies or tax districts, including ones to form a museum district in Carbon County’s Saratoga, a hospital district in Sublette County and a fire district in Lincoln County’s Star Valley. Results announced Tuesday are preliminary and election officials will certify them in coming days.
Three new sales-tax approvals will generate a combined $69 million for infrastructure projects in northern and eastern Wyoming. Sheridan County voters approved a 1% sales and use tax that will raise $40 million for specific municipal and county projects. Fully 77% of the votes on the measure were in favor.
Niobrara County voters backed a 1% sales tax with 78% of the votes cast on the issue. The tax will raise $21.6 million for Lusk, Manville and Van Tassell.
In Crook County voters backed a $7.5 million sales tax issue with 54% of the ballot-question vote. The money will go toward county infrastructure and works in Hulett, Moorcroft, Pine Haven and Sundance.
Voters continued 1% sales and use taxes for government operations in Fremont, Goshen and Weston counties. The closest vote came in Weston County where the measure won with 54%.
“Fieldhouse flops,” the Uinta County Herald declared as voters dashed school kids’ hopes by rejecting a bond issue for a $22.7 million indoor sports venue. The Evanston field house went down 68% to 32%.
“I think timing had a lot to do with it,” Herald Managing Editor Bryon Glathar told WyoFile on Wednesday. In an energy-industry county, “people are laid off, having their salaries and hours cut,” he said, and could not stomach a tax increase. “There was some pretty vocal opposition,” he said.
Voters rejected two other big tax proposals — a 1% sales tax for government operations in Park County and a similar 1% sales tax in Teton County. The Teton tax lost 53% to 47%.
In Park County, officials told the Cody Enterprise they were bummed out about the 61% to 39% loss. Cody’s government was to use the revenue for law enforcement plus various infrastructure projects.
Park County commissioners told the newspaper they envisioned cutting employees and reducing services without the tax. “I am very disappointed the citizens don’t trust us to spend their dollars wisely,” County Commission Chairman Joe Tilden told the Enterprise.
Cody Mayor Matt Hall echoed the Uinta County lament. “It might have done stronger in [a] year everyone isn’t struggling,” he told the paper.
Love that lodging tax
Lodging taxes, which are imposed on hotel and motel rooms and earmarked for tourism promotion and services, passed easily around the state. Because the tax targets tourists, it has been advertised in some communities as “the tax you don’t pay.”
The Lincoln County communities of Kemmerer, Diamondville and Cokeville each continued their lodging taxes as did Pinedale. Voters in Goshen, Hot Springs, Park, Platte and Weston counties also voted to continue their lodging taxes.
Voters approved a handful of mill levies — property taxes — and the creation of taxing districts.
In Sublette County, the only county in the state without a hospital, voters’ 60% approval of a hospital district gives community leaders authority to levy more property taxes. Before the election, county health services were supported by a rural health care district, which has less taxing authority than a hospital district.
Voters in two parts of Big Horn County approved property taxes to aid senior citizens and rural healthcare. Carbon County voters in the Saratoga area approved formation of the Saratoga-Ryan Park Museum district.
Converse County voters backed a tax district to aid seniors as did those in Crook County. Johnson County voters continued to support a solid-waste mill levy, according to the Buffalo Bulletin.
Uinta county voters, where Evanston rejected the field house, did support a small property tax for post-secondary educational services. Weston County voters backed a hospital mill levy.