Jena Doak, [email protected]
The special election 1 percent tax increase, also known as the Public Safety/Economic Development Initiative, failed last Tuesday, November 2.
Some believe that the language on the ballot was not clear enough. Had it been a specific purpose tax, detailing the proposed use of the funds, voters may have been a little more lenient.
“The vote was what I expected,” Rock Springs City Council member Brent Bettolo said. “It wasn’t specific as to where the money would be going.”
Rock Springs City Council member Tim Savage was in favor of the increase. He noted a particular attitude among some constituents.
“I was surprised to see so much anger among people at the polls,” Savage said. “Also, a lot of people put up signs illegally and did not respect property rights.” He stressed that it is popular to oppose any tax increase, and that politicians do not gain political “points” for being in favor of them.
Public officials interviewed by Wyo4News agree on a couple of things. They concur that there is no plan for making up the revenue that a favorable vote would have secured.
“I have no idea how we are going to make up the revenue,” Savage said. “There will just have to be some cost-cutting somewhere.”
Sweetwater County Commissioner, Lauren Schoenfeld, also could not provide a definitive answer to the question about whether commissioners have a backup plan.
“We do not know where we will get the funds,” Schoenfeld said. “It was a learning experience for us, and we are grateful for the public feedback.”
After lamenting the loss of coal revenue, Savage expressed some optimism about the current fiscal standing of the county.
“We’re lucky we have trona,” Savage said. “And the power plant is going to be around. We have the fertilizer plant, and oil and gas is coming back around again.” In an email to Wyo4News, Savage further added, “The government can skate by on its reserves for a few years but after that, watch out.”
Another thing they all agree upon is that the ballot verbiage could have been much more precise. “Public Safety” and “Economic Development” was clearly not enough.