6th Penny FAQs
2018 Specific Purpose Excise Tax FAQ’s
Q: When is the election?
A: Tuesday, August 21, 2018.
Q: Why are we having an election now?
A: The specific purpose excise tax ends one quarter after the total funds have been collected. Having the election now keeps the tax rate constant to save vendors from having to change their cash registers.
Q: When will the current tax end?
A: The current collection is projected to end in December 2018.
Q: How was the current tax spent?
A: The current Specific Purpose Excise Tax, approved by Albany County voters November 29, 2010, raised $42 million.
- Albany County: $6M for road and bridge projects, $1.5M for airport, $300K for detention center, $380K for civic center debt relief, $338K for fairgrounds, and $2.2M for aquifer protection/I-80 spill containment.
- City of Laramie: $15.7M for water infrastructure, $3.6M wastewater infrastructure, $4.3M street improvements, $2.1M aquifer protection, and $1.6M solid waste disposal.
- Town of Rock River: $3M for water infrastructure, $40K for sewer infrastructure, $150K for rescue, and $150K for town hall.
Q: What projects are planned for the proposed tax?
A: Most of the projects planned are infrastructure—city streets, storm drainage, and public buildings. The ballot lists them all. For Albany County projects, click "here".
Q: Will my taxes go up?
A: No. This is NOT an additional tax. The rate remains the same—6%. It is a rollover for new purposes.
Q: Is the sales tax exemption on food still in effect? How long will it last?
A: Yes, the exemption is still in effect. Only the Wyoming State Legislature can reinstate the tax on food.
Q: When would the proposed tax end?
A: If the tax generates $400,000 a month as currently estimated, it will end in approximately 10 to 12 years pending actual sales tax collections.
Q: Will our taxes be higher than other counties?
A: No. These counties also have specific purpose excise taxes that are at a rate of 6%: Carbon, Crook, Hot Springs, Laramie, Niobrara, Platte, Sheridan, Teton, and Weston Counties. Sales Tax in Ft. Collins is at a rate of 7.30%.
Q: How much of the tax do tourists and out–of-towners pay? A: Domestic and international travelers spent $158.3 million in Albany County and contributed $3.4 million in sales taxes, or 17% of all sales tax collections. Travel-generated tax revenues help support infrastructure and public services.
Q: What happens if any “excess” money is collected?
A: The 2010 tax is scheduled to be paid in full by the first quarter of 2019. By renewing the tax in 2018 it allows tax collections to remain on schedule. Normally, excess taxes occur when a ballot total has been fully collected and the tax is then temporarily discontinued. All taxes are run through the Department of Revenue and are then distributed directly to the governmental agencies, which results in a two-month delay. Any money over-collected during that time is then considered “excess” and must be spent on the projects approved by the voters on the ballot.
Q: Is all of West Laramie going to be paved with this money?
A: No. Item H on the ballot lists the streets targeted for construction or reconstruction in numerical and alphabetical order: Cottonwood, Easterling, Pierce, Pierce and Curtis Intersection, Riverside, and Scherer in West Laramie are on the list for pavement improvements. The City will prioritize street work based on the street’s condition and storm drainage problems. A majority of the City Council, five of nine people, must approve the streets to be reconstructed or constructed.
Q: How were the projects chosen?
A: City, county, and town governments held a series of public meetings to determine which projects to fund. The newspaper covered joint meetings that determined final ballot items. Members of the public were present at all meetings.
Q: Why don’t we have a menu ballot?
A: The three elected boards decided to put all projects on a single ballot, as in past specific purpose tax elections.
Q: Can the money be used for any other projects?
A: No. By law, the money must be used for the projects as defined on the election ballot.
Q: What happens if the tax ballot fails?
A: If the renewal fails, it cannot be voted on again for 11 months after the election. The projects will then be postponed, will not happen, or other funding sources must be found. The State Legislature has decreased funding to cities, towns, and counties by more than 50%, so it is very likely these projects will be postponed indefinitely as there are no other local means for funding.
Q: Will the funds collected from the 2018 Specific Purpose Tax Renewal be used for projects the City has already paid for?
A: No. If approved, funds for the 2018 Specific Purpose Tax Renewal must be allocated toward new projects as indicated on the ballot. These funds may not be used to “reimburse” or “pay” for previous projects.
Q: Why is the ballot so long?
A: A new state law requires more a specific listing.
Q: How much restricted money is left from 2010?
A: Albany County: Road and Bridge continues to collect the remaining taxes from the 2010 specific purpose tax that goes towards the roads, bridges and equipment. All other projects for the county have been spent with the exception of the remediation of accident caused pollutants or other potential contaminant sources within the Telephone Canyon portion of I-80 as identified by the Telephone Canyon Aquifer Protection Study has a remaining balance of $211,659.77.
City of Laramie: The Tax for 2010 is not fully collected for the City. Currently, there is one unbonded project for the Casper Aquifer Protection program that we’ve received monies of $692,079 and have $238,438 in additional taxes to be collected for this project, which is estimated for some time between October 2018 and January 2019. The City called the bonds for all other projects that are now complete.
Q: How do these projects benefit county residents?
A: Improved equipment for the sheriff’s office and road and bridges means better County service and improvements to transit time and safety. Improved technology in the courthouse means improved service when attending to legal matters, such as licenses or deeds. Upgrades at the fair grounds and public library means better recreational and educational services for children, teens, and adults. The County has an investment in its buildings that should be protected and maintained. Also, having newer equipment in Rock River is an added benefit.
Q: Why doesn’t the County just increase property taxes instead of using sales taxes?
A: Albany County is limited by the Wyoming State Constitution to taxing at the rate of 12 mills and the property tax rate is currently as high as it can go legally. The amount your property is taxed is based on what similar property has sold for in the past year. The County Commissioners cannot just increase the mill levy or the value of the mill.
Q: Is any of the money supporting the Pilot Hill project?
A: No. More information can be found at: http://pilothill.org/. This project has always depended on grants, donations, bequests, etc.—not taxes.
Q: Can lodging tax money be used for city and county operations?
A: No. Lodging tax money goes to the Albany County Tourism Board to promote tourism in the county and board operations. Further information can be found here.
Q: If approved, what improvements would be planned for the Ice & Events Center?
A: Improvements that could occur at the Ice & Events Center are potentially an additional ½ sheet of ice, wet locker rooms and building improvements related to the Unified Development Code. If the specific purpose tax is approved the City of Laramie would work with our user groups and the Laramie City Council to evaluate the “most” critically needed improvements and move forward from there.
Q: Could the 6th penny tax be extended?
A: No. The tax is designed to support specific projects only. The three governing boards (County Commission, Town Council, and City Council) could extend the optional sales tax (5th Penny) by proclamation but have chosen not to do so. Rather, they prefer voters to tax themselves. The specific purpose tax (6th Penny) must be put to the voters. State statutes allow for only 2% additional sales taxes above the state’s 4% tax.
Q: What is the date and time of the election?
A: Tuesday, August 21, 2018, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Q: Where can I vote?
A: The county’s website has information about your polling place: Please call 307-721-2546 or click here for more information.
Q: What will the ballot look like?
A: A sample ballot is available for your viewing at the court house, public library, or by clicking here. See directions included below.
Q: How do I vote absentee?
A: Early voting begins July 6, 2018 at the County Clerk’s Election Building on the east side of the courthouse. A qualified voter may apply for an absentee ballot at any time either in person or in writing to: Albany County Clerk, Courthouse, Suite 202, Laramie, WY 82070; or by telephone at 307-721-2546 or by clicking here.
Q: How can I register to vote?
A: People can register at the polls on Election Day. To register to vote, you must be:
- 18 years of age on Election Day;
- U.S. Citizen;
- Resident of Wyoming and the precinct in which you register;
- Withdraw voter registration from any other jurisdiction, if applicable;
- Present a valid Wyoming driver's license if you have one; if not, provide the last four digits of your Social Security Number. (If you have neither, indicate this on the Voter Registration Application form.)
- Not been convicted of a felony, or if convicted, have had civil or voting rights restored.
- Not adjudicated mentally incompetent.
Q: Where can I get additional information?
City of Laramie:
- email, click here.
- call: 307-460-8752
Laramie Regional Airport:
Q: What about the 5th cent, the optional sales tax?
A: Voters elect to renew the 5th cent tax every four years. This year, the renewal will be voted on at the General Election on November 6, 2018. The 5th Cent tax pays for about 18% of the City’s general services, such as street repair, police protection, fire response, ambulance services, parks, recreation, and building and code enforcement. Both the City and County use the 5th Cent tax to provide funding assistance to outside agencies.