What is a specific purpose tax?

A specific purpose tax is a temporary sales tax that is implemented in a county for a limited time. The “specific purpose” terminology refers to the fact that the funds raised must be set aside for specifically defined projects that will occur within the county.

What will the Specific Purpose Tax fund?

The Specific Purpose Tax has never been used in Natrona County before, but it is well suited for this situation because the projects are important, specific, and temporary; and they provide a mix of rural and urban infrastructure for Natrona County.

For the November 2021 ballot, there are two critical projects that meet these criteria:

The Salt Creek Waterline project is vital to the future livability of the towns of Midwest and Edgerton, both located within Natrona County. The current waterline has regular significant failures meaning these areas will lose access to clean, potable water without the completion of the new waterline. Additionally, access to water for emergency services would also be impacted if this current waterline fails without being fully repaired. Intermediate fixes can be applied but are not a solution for the vital need for clean, potable water in the Midwest and Edgerton areas. A Wyoming State grant will fund two-thirds of this project, but a local match is required to reach full funding. Midwest and Edgerton do not have the resources to generate the $2 million needed to match the State grant on their own. The Specific Purpose Tax will fund this critical infrastructure at the local level and allow the project to be finalized without interruption to the Towns’ water supply or the citizens’ quality of life.

The Midwest Avenue project in Downtown Casper is a chance to rebuild the last segment of a major arterial street. For years, the entire length of Midwest Avenue was in terrible condition. Rebuilding Midwest Avenue has been a major expense over several years, but the City of Casper has been able to accomplish portions of the project by pulling together a wide mix of funding sources, including $1.7 million in grants and $4 million from the One Cent Sales Tax. Finishing the last segment would create smooth and inviting access linking downtown all the way to Poplar Street. There is hope this will inspire further clean up and renovation of properties within the area, adding to economic development and vitality in the heart of Casper.

By the Numbers

When will the tax start?

The Specific Purpose Tax is a specific and limited tax that will begin on April 1, 2022, and will end on June 30, 2022.

How much will it cost?

The Specific Purpose Tax will fund a total of $4.3 million.

  • $2.3 million for the Midwest Avenue Project in Downtown Casper.
  • $2.0 million for the Salt Creek Waterline Project in Edgerton and Midwest.

How do I vote?

Voting Day is November 2nd, 2021

Voting Requirements remain the same as even-year elections. In accordance with the new requirements from the Wyoming Secretary of State, Wyoming voters must show an acceptable form of identification when voting in person. There are many ID options for you to use to prove your identity. Any of the following documents will be accepted:


• WY Driver’s License or ID Card
• Tribal ID Card
• Valid US Passport
• US Military Card
• Driver’s License or ID Card from Another State
• University of Wyoming Student ID
• Wyoming Community College Student ID
• Wyoming Public School Student ID
• Valid Medicare Insurance Card*
• Valid Medicaid Insurance Card*

Frequently Asked Questions

In many ways, the Specific Purpose Tax is similar to the existing Optional One Cent Sales Tax also known as the “fifth cent” or “Penny Tax”.  Both taxes are authorized by a vote of the public, and both run for a limited time unless they are reauthorized.  However, there are some key differences:

  • The existing Optional One Cent Sales Tax is a “general purpose” sales tax, which means it can be used for a wide variety of purposes. It is collected for exactly four years.
  • The Specific Purpose Tax (the “sixth cent”) would be much more limited. This kind of tax must be used for a very specific purpose, and these taxes end automatically once the necessary funding has been raised.  In this case, the funding would be raised in just three months.

The Specific Purpose Tax has never been used before in Natrona County, but it is a fundraising tool that is well suited for this situation. The projects are important, specific, and temporary; and they provide a mix of rural and urban infrastructure for Natrona County.  For the November 2021 ballot, there are two critical projects that need to be completed:

  • The Salt Creek Waterline project is vital to the future livability of the towns of Midwest and Edgerton. The current waterline has regular significant failures which means these areas can lose access to clean, potable water without the completion of the new waterline. Additionally, access to water for emergency services would also be impacted if this current waterline fails without being fully repaired. Intermediate fixes can be applied but are not a solution to the vital need for clean, potable water in the Midwest and Edgerton areas. A Wyoming State grant will fund two-thirds of this project, but a local match is required to reach full funding. Midwest and Edgerton do not have the resources to generate the $2 million needed to match the State grant on their own. The Specific Purpose Tax will fund this critical infrastructure at the local level and allow the project to be finalized without interruption to the Towns’ water supply or the citizens’ quality of life.
  • The Midwest Avenue project in Downtown Casper is a chance to rebuild the last segment of a major arterial street. For years, the entire length of Midwest Avenue was in terrible condition. Rebuilding Midwest has been a major expense over several years, but the City of Casper has been able to accomplish portions of the project by pulling together a wide mix of funding sources, including $1.7 million in grants and $4 million from the One Cent Sales Tax. Finishing the last segment would create smooth and inviting access that links downtown all the way to Poplar Street. There is hope that this will inspire further clean up and renovation of properties within the area, which will add to economic development and vitality in the heart of Casper.

The Specific Purpose Tax is a specific and limited tax that will begin on April 1, 2022, and end June 30, 2022. This tax will appear as an increased tax on sales made within Natrona County. Anything that is taxable now at 5% will, for the stated time period, be taxable at 6%. Afterwards, the tax rate will automatically revert back to 5%.

The Specific Purpose Tax revenue will be split between two projects: $2.4 million for Midwest Avenue in Downtown Casper, and $2 million for the Salt Creek Waterline Project in Edgerton and Midwest. The split equates to about 55% to Casper and 45% to Midwest and Edgerton. The tax must be collected for at least one fiscal quarter (three months), so if more than $4.4 million is collected during this time period, the extra funds will be sent to these entities by the same ratio (55% to Casper, 45% to Midwest/Edgerton).

In the case that the Specific Purpose Tax does not pass, the Towns of Edgerton and Midwest and City of Casper will continue to patch and repair these old pieces of infrastructure so that they can maintain their current and functionality. In the long term, other sources of funding could be sought by each of the entities, but it’s not clear when and where those funds would come from due to the limited and restrictive funding available. Attempts to win grants for these projects have, so far, been only partially successful:

 

  • The City of Casper has been awarded three grants to support the Midwest Avenue Project thus far. These grants have amounted to about $1.7 million in revenue, but given the size of the project, this has only been enough to fund about one-third of the first two segments. The final segment requires another $2.4 million to complete. The City of Casper applied for a larger federal grant that would have paid for a significant amount of the final segment, but the grant application was denied. This lack of sufficient grant funding is a significant reason why a Specific Purpose Tax is now being sought out.
  • The towns of Midwest and Edgerton were successful at winning a Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC) grant that would pay for 66% of the proposed water line project. The required $2 million that would be raised by this tax would be the local match required for that grant. The towns could conceivably apply for more grants that would cover that $2 million, but the entire project would be on hold until the full funding can be found. State loans could be issued to supplement the WWDC grant, but loans have to be paid back.

A shortage of infrastructure funding in Natrona County has created difficulty in getting critical infrastructure projects started and completed. A survey of the public was done last year to collect public sentiment about how the citizens of Natrona County feel about their infrastructure, and more specifically, to what extent the citizens would be willing to pay for better infrastructure through an additional tax like this one.

The survey, taken in February 2020 with 865 citizens responding (502 by mail and 383 completed online), found that most were willing to support two projects: Midwest Avenue in Downtown Casper and the Salt Creek Waterline Project in Edgerton and Midwest. Other projects were discussed, but those were not the priorities of the citizens. The results of the survey resulted in citizens being asked to vote on only these two specific projects.

The State of Wyoming’s Department of Revenue will notify the vendors in their quarterly publications. Through these publications, all of the State’s licensed vendors will be given sixty days’ notice before they are to start collecting sales tax at the 6% rate, and likewise, they will get sixty days’ notice before they revert back to 5%.

If the Specific Purpose Tax is passed, both projects would likely start in the spring of 2022 and be complete by the fall of 2022.