(Stew Dyer / Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council has directed staff to draft a resolution in support of several legislative resolutions proposed by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities.

The 2024 WAM legislative agenda, distilled from this year’s summer convention, includes seven points, covering a spectrum of public concerns ranging from infrastructure subsidies to a comprehensive records retention policy.

Yet, among the various resolutions, the introduction of a real estate transfer tax has emerged as the most contentious topic, prompting debate among the councilors.

Councilor Lisa Engebretsen was against the transfer tax resolution proposed by WAM.

“I can adamantly say without a shadow of doubt I am fully against the transfer tax. … All this does is increase an additional percentage on houses … preventing people from being able to purchase a property,” she said.

Councilor Amber Pollock’s perspective highlighted the need for greater local autonomy.

“I think we need to be continuing to push the state to allow more flexibility and options for local entities, counties, municipalities to create income. … I’d be in favor of it, for that reason to continue to let us have that conversation with the state,” Pollock said. “Counties are able to levy this tax, [but are] not required to levy this tax. So it would allow Jackson to do what they want to do in their county and not require us to.”

Councilor Kyle Gamroth echoed Pollock’s sentiments on local autonomy.

“We should have as much local autonomy as possible, in my opinion. … I totally agree with allowing municipalities to levy this tax … restricting it to those high values, the people that aren’t struggling,” Gamroth said, referencing an addendum to only apply the tax to high-value house sales. “The government that governs best governs closest to home. … We should have as much local autonomy as possible.”

Councilor Steve Cathey, who voted against moving forward with a resolution in support of the WAM proposals, felt that offering this mechanism for new taxes was too far.

“I am solely against this. … People laugh at me, ‘Oh, how can you afford that Corvette?’ I bust my ass for 70 years. And now you want to tax the sale of my house? No, that’s not gonna happen,” Cathey said.

The transfer tax, if passed by the State Legislature, would still need to be implemented by counties individually.

The impending session is expected to be budget-focused, and passing legislation requires a two-thirds majority.

The City Council leans toward backing the WAM resolutions, yet the transfer tax remains a debated point.

For now, the Casper community will have to wait for the draft resolution’s final form, but the direction was to write the resolution with an addendum to only support the transfer tax on sales over $1 million.

The resolutions can be found below in a packet prepared for the City Council.

Due to ongoing and extensive renovations at City Hall, the City Council met in The Lyric, 230 W. Yellowstone Highway, at 4:30 p.m. The session was open to the public. Those interested can watch a video of the work session on the City of Casper YouTube channel.