Jackson town councilors and Teton County commissioners this week began joint discussions about town-county funding sources and the timing of their next specific purpose excise tax election.

During their Monday joint information meeting, the two bodies discussed diversification of town and county funding sources and then focused on SPET election timing. Most who weighed in voiced their preference to put a SPET initiative — one asking voters to say yea or nay to specific projects — on this November’s general election ballot so there would be no gap in SPET collections.

While the town and county both enjoy strong fund reserves at the moment, Jackson Town Manager Larry Pardee told commissioners that a model projecting out over the next five years shows that those reserves will be drained unless new funding sources are implemented.

The Town Council has determined that a seventh penny of sales tax would be the most effective and reliable revenue source. And while state law now allows for the town to go at it alone in an election on a seventh-penny measure, the majority of the council and town staff agreed that a countywide election would be best, Pardee told the commissioners.

A countywide seventh penny of sales tax is projected to bring in $9.5 million annually for the town, with the county reaping even more. The measure failed on the November 2020 ballot, despite projections that nearly 60% of the added sales tax would be paid by tourists, unlike some other levy options, such as property tax, which are paid entirely by local residents.

All of the commissioners present — Chair Natalia Macker, Greg Epstein, Mark Newcomb and Luther Propst —had questions about a countywide seventh-penny initiative, with Epstein wondering if county residents “have the appetite” to see another such measure on the general election ballot.

Jackson Vice Mayor Arne Jorgensen said he would want assurances that certain county stakeholders would be willing to voice their support for the seventh penny. In 2020, some stayed on the sidelines.

Regarding the timing of the next SPET election, Pardee pointed out that current SPET collections of approximately $19 million per year should be paid off by the end of September 2024, possibly sooner. Members of both bodies indicated support for a SPET measure to be placed on the November ballot to avoid a gap in collections.

Contact Tim Woods at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

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(1) comment

Judd Grossman

Don't take anymore of our money. Government needs to live within its means.

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