Towns move forward with sixth-cent proposals

by david peck

Mayors and other town officials gathered once again to discuss the proposed specific purpose sales tax Thursday, meeting this time in Frannie.

The officials worked long and hard on the so-called sixth-cent sales tax and agreed to move forward with a list of projects, but according the Lovell clerk/treasurer Valerie Beal, the various municipalities still have some work to do to complete a final list of projects and to decide how much funding to bond for and how much to take in monthly payments.

Beal explained that if the sales tax passes, the towns can accept monthly payments as sales tax revenue is generated, or they can bond for the money, and while the latter method produces all of the revenue up front, the bond accrues interest that must be paid back.

Towns can also select a combination of the two methods, Beal said, for instance taking “up-front” money for a capital project but taking operation and maintenance money over time.

“Towns are still narrowing it down,” Beal said. “They are still working on figures. We don’t have an exact amount yet.”

Working with the municipalities at Thursday’s meeting were bonds counsel Barbara Bonds, who is helping the towns with scheduling and assembling the resolution to be decided by the towns and county commissioners, and Mary Keating-Scott of George K. Baum & Co., who is assisting the towns with the sales tax numbers and presenting the project to the public.

Beal said the assembled officials went through the projects town by town, like they did a month earlier in Deaver, and most of the projects stayed the same, while others were modified. Bonds and Keating-Scott urged the towns to be specific, for instance asking the Town of Burlington name specific streets to be paved, rather than leaving it open.

Here is the current list as presented Thursday night, according to Beal:

Basin – 1) Remodel the currently vacant town hall annex and refurbish the existing town hall for a community center, $200,000; 2) if and when the state builds a new high school in Basin, remodel the existing gymnasium as a recreation center, $200,000; 3) fund operation and maintenance of the recreation center for 20 years, $800,000. Total: $1.2 million.

Burlington – Pave streets in town. Total: $2 million.

Byron – Provide matching funds for a sewer line replacement project on the south side of Byron, memorial park improvements, chip and crack sealing, recreation funding, renovate the pool in the former high school building and operation and maintenance of the pool. Total: $1,760,000.

Cowley – Resurface streets and improve intersections with curb and gutter and new aprons. Total: $2.3 million.

Deaver — Replace in-town water distribution system – mains and service lines. Total: $2 million.

Frannie – Rehabilitate the town irrigation water well, $1,216,250, and purchase a new pickup with a snowplow capacity, $46,405. Total: $1,262,655.

Greybull – Swimming pool operation and maintenance for 20 years, $2 million, and contributing to the construction of a new pool, $400,000, with the rest of the design and construction to be paid for by patrons of School District No. 3 if voters approve a bond issue. Total: $2.4 million.

Lovell – New building for the proposed Lovell-Kane Museum, $1.5 million; improvements to the rodeo grounds including a concessions building and restrooms, $110,000; new golf cart barn for the Foster Gulch Golf Course, $40,000; street paving and curb and gutter in parts of town currently without pavement, $550,000. Total: $2.2 million.

Manderson – Water tank and water main replacement. Total: $1.5 million.

Beal said each town must submit to Bonds final figures including how much funding would be bonded so she can prepare the bond and a resolution that would go the town councils and the county commissioners. Six of nine councils and the commissioners must approve the resolution in order for the sixth-cent tax to be placed on the November General Election ballot.

Lovell mayor Bruce Morrison said during a town council meeting Tuesday night that the towns each agreed to contribute $3,500 to put the bond and the resolution together and to begin the education process, but any promotion of the tax must be funded privately and will require the establishment of a political action committee.