SPET projects win big, but must wait in line
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: November 9, 2012
Plans to clean up the old trash dump in Horsethief Canyon and build a pathway between Jackson and the west bank won big voter support Tuesday.
But while the people have spoken, now they’ll have to wait. Not until 2014 will the money for the two projects start to roll in from the specific purpose excise tax, which will pay for large portions of the multimillion-dollar projects.
The dump and the pathway are at the back of line.
The current slate of SPET-supported projects — approved by voters in 2010 — includes funding for expansion work at Teton County Library and St. John’s Medical Center. Spending on those projects is expected to be paid off by June or July 2014. Immediately after that the two new projects approved this week will start taking in money.
The 1-cent tax generates about $9 million annually. That means it will take just more than two years to collect all the money for the new projects.
Sometime before the transition happens, Teton County Treasurer Donna Baur will sort out a formula to disburse money to each project. With only two projects, she easily could go with an even split.
Voters overwhelmingly backed proposals to clean up contamination at the old landfill and complete a pathway project between downtown Jackson and the west bank. Roughly 72 percent of voters backed the landfill cleanup, a project mandated by state environmental regulators. Nearly 69 percent supported the pathway project.
Voters rejected a proposal from Jackson officials to buy 10 acres of land on North Cache Street from the U.S. Forest Service. The $13.5 million request was voted down by nearly 52 percent of voters.
Defeat of the third proposal means the new list of SPET funding projects will take only about $18.8 million to complete instead of more than $32 million that would have been committed if the land buy had been approved. With a much smaller tab, the tax will come up for renewal earlier than expected, probably by 2016.
If the Forest Service land purchase had been approved, the tax could have been tied up for another one to two years.