City of Green River reacts to recent State Legislative Session

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March 27, 2024 — City of Green River Press Release

The 2024 Wyoming Legislative Budget Session has come to a close with the biennial budget and many additional pieces of legislation having been signed into law. Throughout this process, the City of Green River has been actively engaged, corresponding with our local legislators and determining the impacts of legislation in our community.

Going into the session, property tax reform led the way as one of the top priorities of many legislators, with a large number of bills introduced on the subject and a handful making it through the process. While Sweetwater County has not experienced property tax increases at levels seen in other parts of the state, the bills that have been signed into law will provide varying levels of property tax reductions for some homeowners in Green River. For the city, property tax revenues provide approximately 5% to 7% of the general fund budget used to provide city services, with sales and use tax revenues making up the largest single source of
annual revenue. With this lower percentage and the backfilling provisions included in a few of the bills that have been signed into law, the City of Green River does not anticipate major revenue reductions resulting from this session’s property tax legislation.

 

Each session, the City of Green River closely monitors what is known as the Direct Distribution bill. Through this legislation, the State provides two annual payments to local county and municipal governments to supplement available revenues and help offset some of the revenue losses that occurred when the sales tax was removed from food. This session, the Direct Distribution bill, HB0070, was passed with $146.25 million to be distributed based on a formula to all counties and municipalities in Wyoming over the two-year biennium. This final agreed-upon dollar amount is the same that was distributed during the last biennium and will result in a total payment of approximately $1,139,072 to the City of Green River each year for the next two fiscal years, or about 7% to 8% of the general fund budget.

SF0090: State-Managed Local Government Equity Investment Pool is another bill passed during the 2024 session. This bill came in response to the passage of Amendment A during the 2022 General Election, which allows local government entities, like the City of Green River, to invest revenues in equities in an attempt to increase the investment return potential of these public
funds. SF0090 authorizes the State Treasurer’s Office to establish and manage a local government investment equities pool, which will allow local governments to pool their funds in a portfolio containing equities that are considered lower risk but with the potential for greater returns. Participation in the investment pool is completely voluntary, and the City of Green River will continue to assess if and to what extent participation in this new option makes sense. Currently, the City of Green River invests some funds, such as those set aside for large upcoming capital purchases, in similarly managed pools that do not include equities.

State-managed pension plans are another area in which legislation passed during the 2024 session will impact the City of Green River. A number of bills have been signed into law that will increase the required contribution rates for various retirement plans managed by the state and utilized by the City of Green River for their employees in an effort to ensure they are actuarily sound. While these bills will increase personnel costs, the City feels that the Wyoming Retirement system is a strong benefit for recruiting and retention.

The City of Green River has made it a goal to become more engaged in the legislative process, and with other partners at the local, state, and federal level. In 2020, the City created a Government Affairs and Grants Manager and Communications Administrator position to support this goal and increase communication with partner entities and the public. “As a City we are seeing the benefits of greater communication and collaboration at all levels. We would like to thank our local legislators for all of their work during the recently completed session and express our gratitude to those legislators who took the time to stay in communication with us on relevant issues,” said Mayor Pete Rust.

In addition to the revenue discussions occurring during the legislative session, the City of Green River is also beginning to see revenues from the recently passed Specific Purpose Tax (6th penny) reaching levels that will allow construction to begin on some of the projects this summer. Through February 2024, the City has received just over $4 million in 6th penny revenues. During the summer of 2024, the City hopes to complete reconstruction on Faith and Evans Streets at an estimated cost of $2.7 million, to be followed by reconstruction of portions of Riverview Drive, which are expected to cost an estimated $2.9 million when completed. 6th penny collections will also be used this summer for additional road maintenance and repair that include preventative treatments such as crack sealing, chip sealing, or slurry seal of existing roads. Current collections of 6th penny revenues are coming in faster than projected, positively impacting the amount of time needed to cover the cost of the approved projects. Mayor Pete Rust said, “The 6th penny is an extremely important revenue tool that has supported needed projects in the community, and we are excited to get some of these needed road projects started”.