Riverton City Council approves new funding distribution model for half cent economic development tax revenues

    (Riverton, WY) – The Riverton City Council approved a proposed change to the countywide agreement for economic development sales tax distributions this week.

    The modification should help bolster the “diminishing” public support for the tax, which is up for renewal this fall, Fremont County Association of Governments administrator Tim Nichols told the council during a regular meeting Tuesday.

    “FCAG heard public frustration and is offering a solution and recommendation (for change),” Nichols said. “This modified (agreement) better defines guardrails for the funds and allocates them to specific silos that would, with any luck … reinstate the public confidence and better secure foundational elements of economic development for future success in the community.”


    Ambulance funding

    The proposed change to the distribution method increases the amount of economic development funding going toward air and ground transportation, and it creates a new allocation to support the county ambulance service.

    h/t City of Riverton

    “A big part of this is the ambulance service,” Riverton Mayor Tim Hancock said, noting that there has been “a lot of discussion” recently about how to pay for emergency medical services in Wyoming. “We’re talking about, of the whole, 20 percent would be going towards ambulance service.”

    Councilmember Mike Bailey pointed out that the sales tax will let “the entire population,” including tourists, contribute to EMS funding, as opposed to a property tax, which only impacts local landowners.


    Nichols, who also serves as the director of the Wind River Transportation Authority, said that agency would likely use any sales tax revenues it receives to leverage grant funding and “secure a more functional commuter line system” to “service the gaps that I’ve identified in several areas – one of which would include a Riverton inner-city (route).”

    “I’m not 100 percent sure why that doesn’t exist, but it is very feasibly done,” he said.


    Hancock said there have also been discussions about a WRTA “expansion” to include Dubois and Shoshoni in the transportation network and “really make it so that people can get around the county.”

    The WRTA currently serves up to 42,000 riders per year, Nichols said, mostly through contracts for service with local entities like Head Start.

    Outside of those contracts, he said, “the functionality of the system is not user-friendly,” so he would like to “modify the structure” of the transportation network based on “population density, peak hours of operation, (and) peak hours of ridership” to create a “more effective system.”


    “The ridership is alarmingly low for the cost,” Nichols said. “I am genuinely concerned with the amount of funds that have been invested – upwards of $30 per passenger. … So we get to work and we strategically implement changes and build a more effective model.”

    At Central Wyoming Regional Airport, city administrator Kyle Butterfield said the additional economic development funding would help cover an anticipated increase to the minimum revenue guarantee that SkyWest Airlines receives for commercial air service.

    The MRG is likely to rise because of a negotiated increase in wages for SkyWest pilots, he said.


    FCAG plans to present the proposed changes to the economic development funding distribution method to Fremont County, Dubois, Hudson, Lander, Pavillion, Riverton, and Shoshoni.

    If the changes are approved, they will not take effect until after the half percent sales tax for economic development is passed again in November, according to the new agreement.

    For more information, call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.


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