Green River Star -

By Daniel Bendtsen
Contributor 

Municipalities, hospitals receive $159K from excess SPT revenue

 

August 4, 2022



After vendors collected $169,123 in excess sales tax revenue, communities and hospitals in Sweetwater County received a small bonus from the 1% special purpose tax that was in effect from 2013 to 2018.

The 1% SPT was approved by voters in 2012 and included $60.5 million in projects for county and municipal projects. Another $21.3 million was approved for projects at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and Castle Rock Hospital District. After funding for those projects was fulfilled in 2018, the treasurer’s office of Sweetwater County has continued to receive some excess tax revenue from vendors.

In July, Treasurer Joe Barbuto distributed $30,556 of the revenue to the city of Green River. Rock Springs received $57,164 while $16,478 was sent to the towns of Granger, Superior and Wamsutter.

Because Sweetwater Memorial and Castle Rock weren’t original sponsors of the 2012 ballot initiatives, their disbursements needed approval from the Sweetwater County Commissioners, Barbuto said.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to send $40,014 to Sweetwater Memorial and $5,219 to Castle Rock.

The language of the 2012 resolution requires the entities to use excess tax funds on “construction, operation, equipment and maintenance” of the original projects funded by the 1% tax.

“It’s not as though we’re collecting extra money and using it for something random or putting it into a general fund,” Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld said. “It does have to go directly back into the maintenance of those specific projects that were approved by voters.”

Of the $169,123 in excess tax revenue collected, Barbuto withheld $10,000 from disbursement in case there are any refund requests submitted through the Wyoming Department of Revenue.

“The alternative to keeping ($10,000) is disbursing it along with the rest, but if there are refund requests from the Department of Revenue, which is not unheard of and has been large numbers at times, we would have to go back to these municipalities and ask them to give some of that money back, so I think this is the better course of action,” Barbuto said.

Other commission business

At their Tuesday meeting, county commissioners also agreed to allow the county’s fire warden, Jim Zimmerman, to enact fire restrictions for Sweetwater County as soon as the Bureau of Land Management enacts similar restrictions for the land it governs. Once fire restrictions are enacted this summer, commissioners will ratify them at their next meeting. That plan follows the practice Sweetwater County has used in previous years, Commissioner Doc Wendling said.

Zimmerman has weekly meetings with his BLM counterparts to discuss the status of fire danger in the county, Commissioner Rob Lloyd said.

The county board also gave approval for Barbuto to invest funds in the Wyoming Cooperative Liquid Securities System, an investment pool for political subdivisions that invests participants’ funds in short-term fixed income instruments.

“I don’t have any immediate plans to invest but I’ll talk to them about what they have to offer and if it’s right for Sweetwater County,” Barbuto said.

The cities of Green River and Rock Springs already participate in the investment pool, which Barbuto described as “stable and safe.”

At their next meeting, commissioners plan to discuss the possibility of creating a CEO position for Sweetwater County.

“I have had multiple calls this week from the public about a rumor that we are going to be putting in a potential CEO after the election and kind of sneak it in,” Lloyd said. “I don’t think any of us have that intention. It’s looking at options as a county to provide the most efficient services and those detailed conversations will be happening in public in an open manner.”

Commissioner Mary Thoman wanted to add that discussion to Tuesday’s agenda, but her motion died on a 3-2.

“I think if we’re going to have that discussion, it should be on the agenda and well advertised so that the public can tune in if they want to . . . rather than be blindsided by an additional agenda item,” Wendling said.

 

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