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‘Sixth cent’ tax would give Casper ~$2.3M for Midwest Ave. reconstruction; survey finds 62% support

Midwest Avenue reconstruction in spring 2019. (Brendan LaChance, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Natrona County may wind up holding a special election this November to ask voters to consider supporting a temporary “sixth-cent” special purpose sales and use tax.

Funds from the “sixth cent” tax would specifically go toward two project:

  • the Midwest Avenue reconstruction project in downtown Casper
  • a project to replace about six miles of water pipeline along Salt Creek Highway near the Town of Midwest and the Town of Edgerton

In order to put the question before voters for the two “sixth-cent” projects, four out of six municipalities in Natrona County would need to pass resolutions in support of the Natrona County Commissioners holding the special election. Those municipalities include:

  • City of Casper
  • City of Mills
  • Town of Evansville
  • Town of Bar Nunn
  • Town of Midwest
  • Town of Edgerton

The City of Casper had a survey conducted in February and March of 2021 to gauge the level of support for the proposed “sixth cent” projects. ETC Institute administered the random sample survey to residents in Casper, Evansville, Bar Nunn, Mills, and Natrona County.

773 survey responses were received, which exceeded the goal of receiving 500 responses. The survey has a margin of error of 3.5% with a 95% confidence interval, according to a memo from City of Casper staff.

That survey found that 62% of respondents would be “very supportive” or “somewhat supportive” of completing the reconstruction of Midwest Avenue between Walnut and Poplar Street. That includes 34% who were very supportive and 28% who were somewhat supportive. An additional 15% were unsure, with the remainder of respondents saying they were not supportive of the project.

Should voters approve the “sixth cent” tax, that would be in addition to the “fifth cent” or “fifth penny” optional sales and use tax. That “fifth cent” is a local tax imposed on top of the statewide 4% sales and use tax.

Casper would receive about $2.3 million for reconstruction of Midwest Avenue if voters approve the special purpose “sixth cent” sales and use tax.

Natrona County has had a “fifth penny” sales and use tax since 1974. The survey conducted this spring found that 90% of residents think that has been beneficial to Natrona County.

The “fifth cent” will be up for renewal in 2022. The survey found that 71% of respondent would be either very or somewhat likely to vote in favor of continuing it. 55% said they would be “very likely” to vote in favor of renewing the “fifth cent” tax and 16% said they were “somewhat likely” to do so. 8% said they were “unsure” with 20% saying they are “not likely” to approve continuation of the optional tax.

The Casper City Council will be discussing the results of the survey and whether to adopt a resolution calling for the special election during their Tuesday, May 11 work session. Details are available in the council’s work packet.

The Natrona County Commission discussed the issue last week and Commissioner Paul Bertoglio said the rough estimate for the total amount of cost between the two projects that would be supported by the sixth cent was somewhere between $4-7 million.

The “sixth cent” would expire once the funding goals for the projects are met since the tax is a specific purpose tax.