CASPER, Wyo. — Casper Mayor Charlie Powell raised the possibility of pushing the Wyoming Legislature to allow the formation of special land tax rules during the city council’s Tuesday, Nov. 12 work session.
He said that the idea would be to lobby the legislature to allow the formation of rules such that undeveloped land or rundown, unoccupied buildings could be taxed at a higher rate.
The purpose of such a tax would be to incentive development and discourage land speculation with no intent to develop.
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That’s a problem he said is holding back economic activity in Casper.
He said such taxes might make it “so that we don’t have these [undeveloped] pockets of land or decrepit buildings.”
Some communities in Colorado have such tax rules such that people’s taxes go down after building on properties, Councilman Bob Hopkins said.
Powell asked the city council whether they’d be interested in exploring the possibility further.
“I don’t know if it is feasible,” he said. “I’m persuaded it is an idea worth looking at.”
While some on the council were open to the idea, others were not.
“I’m a firm no,” Councilman Ray Pacheco said.
He said the appropriate place for such a discussion was with the legislature and that he was definitely opposed to Casper spending any money on the idea.
“I’m always open to listening, but I don’t know that we’re the right crowd,” Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz said. “Property taxes are assessed at the county level.”
Councilman Steve Cathey agreed.
“[Land tax] is county and state through statute,” he said.
Councilman Mike Huber said he’d be open to hearing more about the issue.
Hopkins said the city council may have other means to encourage development. He suggested that the city could consider purchasing unused or run-down property to incentivize development as they did with the former Plains Furniture building and surrounding properties.
Since most on the council thought the idea would be better brought to a different audience, Powell said he wouldn’t continue to raise the discussion with them.