Rock Springs Council rejects tax hike information campaign

FRESHWATER COUNTY – Rock Springs City Council unanimously voted at its meeting today to reject a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the County and City of Green River on a one-cent, multi-purpose sales tax information campaign.

Both the Sweetwater County Commissioners and Green River City Council unanimously approved the conclusion of the MOU at their meetings today.

Under the amended MoU, each company would have to pay $ 10,000 to produce informational brochures to educate residents about the multi-purpose tax.

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During the Sweetwater County Commission meeting this morning, Sweetwater County’s assistant attorney John DeLeon said the MOU had been reviewed by both cities and the county and everyone appeared to be on board with the language.

Rock Springs City Council filed a motion for the deal earlier this year in response to a recommendation from Wyoming’s Attorney General Bridget Hill.

Cities and rural districts can provide information brochures on the initiative via special-purpose tax funds. However, they weren’t sure if the same could apply to a multipurpose tax.

DeLeon said Hill advised the towns and county that they could use funds to provide information about the multipurpose tax to the public, but they could not use it for marketing or promoting the initiative.

Vocal opposition

Councilor Keaton West noted that the board has already voted against allowing the multi-purpose tax, so why should he contribute money to make information available to the public?

West added that the council is still waiting for information on how the money is being spent and that it doesn’t understand why Rock Springs is always expected to take the lead in these initiatives.

“There are no definitive answers and that is difficult for the public to accept. It’s difficult for our own board of directors to accept… ”West said. “There is a lack of leadership and that will ultimately fail.”

I will not support spending money on something we did not approve 77 days ago. There are only 42 days left and I think this will go up in flames.

~ Rock Springs City Council Keaton West

Alderman Rob Zotti said Green River and the county are asking Rock Springs to spend money on an information campaign that has not yet been defined at this time.

“The whole thing is a disaster in my opinion,” said Zotti. “There’s a tremendous lack of leadership and nobody really wants to take responsibility and lead that … It’s pretty embarrassing when I talk to voters and they ask me questions that should be basic questions that I don’t even have to answer.”

Mayor Tim Kaumo said he knew the whole process was frustrating. But he fears that if this initiative fails, they will lose credibility and the special purpose tax at the voting booth could fail.

“I know the intention is good. I know the way it was brought out could have been shady at best, ”said Kaumo. “I have no choice but to go through with this”

However, he was the only one on the council who voted for the resolution. Council David Halter abstained and everyone else voted against the motion. The movement failed.

Green River vote

Meanwhile, Green River City Council unanimously voted to approve the MOU tonight with very little discussion.

Alderman Gary Killpack called the multipurpose tax “an excellent” move as tourists and visitors to Sweetwater County will top up the coffers.

City administrator Reed Clevenger said the tax revenue generated by the increase from tourism alone could increase the bottom line by 20-30 percent.

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