I am supporting a renewal of the 6th penny sales tax initiative. Those who know me well know I am not a "tax and spend" liberal. Far from it. I am a fiscal conservative who happens to believe in accountability and in the principle of stewardship.
We Wyomingites are generally not in favor of far-reaching state and local government entities supported by high taxes. However, we must necessarily be willing to tax ourselves a reasonable amount to maintain the infrastructure we need and enjoy.
As a former long-time administrative VP and CFO at Western Wyoming Community College, I can tell you that in spite of decades of lobbying and advocacy for an adequate and consistent revenue stream to support major maintenance, we were largely unsuccessful. All of Wyoming's college campuses are experiencing rapid physical deterioration due to woeful underfunding to address major maintenance needs. As a current trustee for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, I can state that the infrastructure repair/replacement needs there are very significant. The Sweetwater County commissioners have been wonderfully supportive of the hospital to help us address these needs, but they have their own funding limitations from their funding sources.
Current revenue streams for virtually all state and local governmental, educational and health care organizations are designed to primarily fund day-to-day operations, not long-term major maintenance.
Infrastructure in this county is decaying at an alarming rate. Crumbling streets and outdated wastewater treatment facilities are just two examples. We need to take care of what we have. This is not a criticism of our local officials. They do their best with their limited resources.
I personally support an ongoing 6th penny sales tax with a requirement that the vast majority of the funds be used to properly maintain what is already in place. As a fiscal conservative, I believe we have an obligation to "conserve," that is, to protect our infrastructure from harm or destruction. This is a critical stewardship responsibility we must not shirk. A minimal one penny sales tax is certainly not too much to pay for this protection.
I urge all local policy makers to support another 6th penny initiative. Please focus primarily on infrastructure needs. I further urge all taxpayers to vote responsibly for this needed funding stream when the opportunity arises to do so.
Wm. Marty Kelsey, Green River