Funding and Taxes Deep Dive
Special Excise Tax (SPET)
It is estimated that over half of our sales tax (SPET included) is supported by visitors.
SPET remains my favorite tax, as it is the only funding source that the public votes on directly. I support all of the initiatives on this SPET cycle, and I believe that we should continue to take full advantage of our ability to tax our visitors, even if it costs locals a little along the way.
While one might think that our property taxes are mostly shouldered by locals, the fact that much of our County’s real estate is owned by out of town investors, paints things in a different light. Given that each mill levy generates about $2,300,000 in funding for the community and only costs property owners about $100 for each $1,000,000 in value, I support the creation of a one mill levy dedicated to funding our critical mental health and human service providers and early childcare providers. For more info on my support for these organizations, dive deeper HERE.
Within the state of Wyoming, Teton County has a unique relationship with its lodging tax. Unlike every other county in the state, which is only allowed to keep 10% of their lodging tax revenues, we in Teton County retain 40% of ours to mitigate for the effects of our visitor impacts. While this is a blessing for our county, the fact remains that the situation here is dramatically different from any other county in the state and should be treated accordingly. As Commissioner, I will continue to work with legislators in Cheyenne to explain why Teton County requires an even larger percentage of lodging tax revenues to be dedicated to mitigating visitor impacts.
As it currently stands, the County imposes a 2% lodging tax on visitors, and the state has added another 3% to fund their Travel and Tourism Board. The County is able to deploy an additional 2%, which I support completely. Our lodging taxes remain some of the lowest in the nation. I pay higher rates when I visit my Utah stores. I would also push state lawmakers to allow for other taxable opportunities directed at our visitors such as a rental car tax.
I support a graduated real estate transfer tax dedicated to supporting affordable workforce housing. When tackling our critical housing shortage, the biggest impediment is not having a dedicated funding source. For a deeper dive into my positions on housing, please click HERE.
In order to deploy the housing that we need, especially housing serving those most in need, we must bring significant funding to bear, and a real estate transfer tax will work to put funding in the bank so that the Town and County can continue to develop robust housing projects. Again, a large portion of any real estate transfer tax would be paid by out of town investors. This tax could start at a miniscule .5% for properties under $1M and grow to a meaningful 3% for properties valued over $5M. Again, I will dedicate myself to working with lawmakers from across the state to explain why such a mechanism is critical for Teton County to address its unique set of problems.