Lander to consider pausing half cent sales tax distributions while LEDA develops a ‘more focused spending plan’

    The Lander Economic Development Association plans to recommend pausing economic development sales tax distributions for one quarter while they create a “more focused spending plan” for the money.

    “Right now there’s not enough of a focus for Lander and our spending process for the remainder of those funds,” LEDA board member Jenna Ackerman told the Lander City Council during a work session this week. “We’re hoping to get that process started to really focus Lander’s goal to make that money make money for us.”

    The recommended pause would begin next quarter, she noted, so the organizations that have already applied for funding this year won’t be affected by the decision – which must be approved by the council before it can take effect.


    “The recommendations for this past quarter … will still be moving forward,” Ackerman said. “Pausing for next quarter is what we’re suggesting.”

    Community concerns

    Councilmember Missy White thanked LEDA for “being responsive to community concerns” about use of local economic development funding.

    “That actually grows confidence in the public that we’re going to be very particular (about) how funds are allocated for that,” White said. “My hope is that the public will say, ‘Good.’”

    Councilmember John Larsen had mentioned those community concerns earlier in the meeting during an economic development presentation from IDEA Inc. executive director Kevin Kershisnik, predicting that, when the half percent sales tax “comes up for renewal” next year “we’re going to get shot down (if) we continue to hand out these public grants the way that we are.”


    “People just see this as an entitlement type situation,” Larsen said. “The community sees it as … we’re just handing out money to special people, and they’re not very happy with it. How do we change that?”

    That change will require a “group effort,” Kershisnik said – one that has already been initiated at the county level.

    The Fremont County Commission has appointed a task force to review best practices for use of the economic development money locally, Kershisnik explained.


    The group has already distributed surveys to the organizations that have received half cent money over the past three years, requesting information about job creation, cash flows, revenue increases, and more, he said.

    The University of Wyoming will analyze the survey results to measure the economic impact the half percent sales tax has had on Fremont County so far, Kershisnik said.

    The report should also give local officials more information about the best ways to “maximize the return on this investment,” he added.


    “We need to … make that assessment,” he said. “How are all these monies being handled? How are they being issued? … How can we tighten that up and make that more efficient, getting a better multiplier on those monies?”

    Later in the meeting, White pointed out that LEDA’s proposed pause in haf cent distributions in Lander would occur at the same time as the county task force assessment.

    She called the timing a “side benefit” that “gives us the opportunity to see what the county has found in terms of best practices and … learn from that.”

    “Hopefully we can have even more data to inform us with how we move forward,” White said.

    For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.


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