There could be as many as four optional tax measures on Fremont County ballots in 2024.
Two of them are already in place but are up for renewal: the 1 percent sales tax for infrastructure and the half percent sales tax for economic development.
Lander assistant mayor RaJean Strube Fossen said it will be important to “promote” those tax options in the lead-up to the election, informing voters about “what we’ve already done” with the money that’s been generated so far.
“If we don’t keep (those) it’s a revenue loss,” she told the Lander City Council during a strategic planning meeting last month.
Another tax option that could appear on local ballots in 2024 would help pay for emergency medical services in Fremont County, Strube Fossen said.
The Wyoming Legislature passed a new law this year that lets counties create EMS districts to be funded by two to four voter-approved mill levies.
Strube Fossen pointed out that two local lawmakers sponsored the legislation, and it’s likely Fremont County will pursue an EMS district as soon as possible – especially since “right now the county is footing the bill for (EMS).”
That bill currently amounts to almost $1.5 million per year, Fremont County Commissioner Mike Jones told the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee last month.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult to (pay) that over time,” Jones said. “We can’t continue to take it out of our general fund – because shortly, we won’t have a general fund.”
Fremont County Commissioner Larry Allen agreed that “we desperately need” an alternate funding option for EMS.
“We pay … a substantial subsidy,” he said. “(It’s a) tough deal.”
The fourth tax option that might appear on local ballots next year would support local senior centers, Strube Fossen said, recalling that Riverton’s senior center leadership has already spoken about the idea in front of the Riverton City Council
Lander’s senior center proposed a similar idea “a few years ago” and the city “talked them out of it,” Strube Fossen said, but the idea “is probably never off the table” since the local organization’s endowment fund is “eventually going to run dry.”
Council members suggested finding new ways to support the senior center so that another tax measure doesn’t end up on the local ballot.
Fremont County could also allow the 1 percent infrastructure sales tax to become permanent so it doesn’t appear on local ballots anymore, either – but Strube Fossen said the commission has opposed that idea in the past.
“It was a hard ‘no,’” Lander City Councilmember Missy White recalled.
The Fremont County Association of Governments plans to approach the Commission about the idea again this year, Strube Fossen said.
She said another idea is to ask the county to put the EMS tax question on the primary election ballot so “it’s not competing” with the other tax questions in the general election.