Mimicked, copied, flattered

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, count us as blushing.

Town officials, desperate to win over votes to raise taxes and flat out of original ideas, simply copied SHJH’s SPET Scorecard and made their own “corrections.”

We try to inform citizens and TOJ, along with Central Wyoming College a couple of weeks ago, merely taking our informative ads and copy them, adding their own insulting comments. It lacks imagination. It smacks of desperation.

In finally, someone stole the identity of Keep Wyoming Wild and created a fake Facebook Page representing the group. It is pretty sad that’s what some have resorted to. We are just trying to provide some insight into what we believe are choices that stand to accelerate growth even more in Jackson Hole.

Our ad:


Their ad:


Reactions to SPET’s pro-growth agenda

Two letters to the editor in today’s (April 12) News&Guide were encouraging.

One from Laurie Genzer contemplates the notion we might be at carrying capacity now:


Maxed out

Is local government really looking out for us?

Our roadways are maxed out; our sewage plant is getting there; we’ve got benzene in our water, yet government is quiet, unconcerned.

Their focus is more growth, more tax revenue, perks for the few while they ignore the majority.

They’re blind to the problems of growth: overcrowding, empty buses, traffic jams …

Every town and county has its carrying capacity. There are limits to growth. What is the carrying capacity of Jackson Hole? Government has been asked that, and they ignore it. They don’t want to know.

When you’re at capacity, more isn’t better. And we, as a community, are about full up. Look around, you see it everywhere. You feel it when you’re stuck in traffic. We need to stop and take a breather.

What can we do as individuals? How can we send a signal? You do it at the voting booth. Say no to nonessential SPET items. Say no to nonessential spending.

Your vote on May 2 matters, if you make it matter.

There’s only one SPET item that could be essential: the fire stations. It’s No. 9 on the ballot. None of the other items arereally urgent. Life will
go on just fine without them.

Until local government looks at the problems of growth, real problems we all face, just say no in the voting booth.

Make your voice heard.

Laurie Genzer Jackson


The other, from Julia Heileson, brings up numerous good points we should all be thinking about:


Impacts of growth

By loading up the SPET ballot with so many projects the electeds have done us a big favor by highlighting just how much growth is projected for the valley. The growth-inducing impact of these projects is mind-boggling. They all mean more employees and some more users as well, in turn requiring more teachers, doctors, schoolrooms, stores, roads and parking spaces, plus government staff to oversee it all. This on top of the recent Hotel Jackson, the new four-story Marriott, the monstrous expansion proposed for Snow King and the huge recreation complex contemplated on South 89. Yet every week the paper features at least one story highlighting the severity of the housing shortage. A new community college would be especially problematic. How would the students and teachers be housed? Jackson simply cannot be all things to all people. The valley is in serious danger of losing forever the homey Western ambiance, beautiful open spaces and wildlife environment that have defined it for so long.

Julia Heileson Jackson

Letter to the Editor nails it

Wow, did Kent Fiske every hit it on the head with his letter to the editor in the March 22 weekly News&Guide.

Fiske captures a lot of what Save Historic Jackson Hole has been saying recently. As we head to the polls May 2 for a special SPET election, let’s all think long and hard about what projects deserve our hard-earned tax money.

Fisk’s letter to the editor:

Major disconnect
More, more, please sir, may I have some more? More traffic, more crowds, more congestion at trails and trailheads, more roadkill, more taxes?
There seems to be a major disconnect between what the voters explicitly vote for and the way our elected officials are trying to address community problems. They are asking us to pay more for things that encourage growth. I’m not against growth by any means, but growth should increase the quality of life for everyone in the community, not just a few investors. Growth should make the community better, rather than just making for more community.
With growth it should be easier to find a place to live.
With growth taxes per person should go down because of the increased tax base. With proper growth traffic should decrease since people can structure life to live closer to work and there would be less back and forth and round about.
Growth should provide greater diversity opportunities for recreational and cultural resources.
And with more growth we need greater protection for wildlife and its habitat.
Who would not want this? But if we aren’t meeting criteria for proper growth, what are we doing wrong? Why are we letting others take advantage of us and requiring us to pay for their impacts?
—Kent Fiske (Jackson)


SPET: Add your 2 cents (or 1 cent)

Save Historic Jackson Hole would like to remind citizens that you have an opportunity to be heard regarding the latest sales tax hike proposed by government. The special purpose excise tax (SPET) is back. Town and county representatives would like to put several SPET initiatives on a May 2, 2017 special election ballot.

The meeting will take place on Monday, January 23 at 2 p.m. in the commissioners chambers.

If you can spare the time, please attend the meeting to discuss what items should be included in a round of SPET, and whether a second penny should be added to your sales tax in order to cover a wish list that exceeds $100 million. A total of $53.2M going toward 8 town/county projects is currently the ticket preferred by a SPET committee. Another $35.1M was whittled out by the committee but could be in play should electeds decide to increase SPET to 2 pennies. And still an additional $6.75M is being requested by Central Wyoming College for construction of a Jackson campus, and $17M in matching funds is desired by St. John’s Medical Center for a new living center.

Much to our surprise and disappointment, there is still no talk of money being appropriated for what this community says it values most: wildlife. As we continue to mow down 400 animals a year on our roadways (this winter has been even more devastating), elected officials have not appropriated money for wildlife crossings nor have they offered to put such a project on the SPET ballot.

Find out more.

Show up or catch the livestream.



We’d like to know…

The new online poll in the Jackson Hole News&Guide is asking what you would like to see a possible future SPET go toward.

With a general excise tax shot down in November now off the table, a Community Priorities Fund is still in need of actual funding. Will this come from SPET, or would you rather see something else done with your tax dollars? Or would you vote not to reinstate SPET at all?

The special purpose excise tax is scheduled to terminate sometime around April/May 2017 at the current rate of sales tax collection. Citizens of Teton County will likely be asked to vote on whether they want new SPET ballot items to pick up again next summer.

Check out the poll and add your two cents. (Well, actually, you would be adding your one cent if you vote for SPET again.)

I want to vote!


Well, that didn’t take long

Remember that promise not increase our sales tax with this November’s proposed additional one penny general sales that town and county officials hope will fund housing and transportation issues? Our leaders are already considering reneging on that because they need money for their bus barn apartment complex in Karns Meadow.

The project will house up to 67 government employees in 24 units as part of an 18,250-square-foot expansion of the big city mass transit depot in the last remaining pristine and riparian area of Jackson. Electeds like what they’ve seen so far of the design presented by Jorgensen Associates. There’s only one problem: paying for it.

Design costs alone are projected at $640,740. Build out in today’s dollars is estimated at $6.9 million.

Where will town and county officials get that kind of money? From us, the taxpayer, of course. According to agenda documents prepared for today’s Joint Information Meeting to discuss the START Bus Housing Project, alternative #7 identifies SPET as one possible source.

Read more in today’s edition of Jackson Hole Media.

John Turner speaks out

Here’s an oldie but a goody from former state senator John Turner. He wrote this letter to the editor back in February 2016.

A fiscal ambush

A sneak attack on the voters of Teton County. I feel that is what the recent proposal to increase the general sales tax to fund housing, transportation, and the slide represents. Once enacted, the additional funds would be unrestricted, could continue for years and would likely have no direct accountability to the citizens of the county.

When the optional sales taxes provisions were passed by the Legislature to meet the growing needs of local communities, we carefully tailored the SPET to be used for specific projects, with defined costs and with a limited time span to be applied. Appropriately, local officials have to periodically go before the voters and carefully justify their case for transparent and limited expenditures. This is the appropriate vehicle to consider for launching significant requests for what promises to be mountains of new spending.

When I was first elected to the Wyoming Legislature, Teton County was the poorest in Wyoming. It was a time when local officials had to be extremely cautious in selecting priorities and spending limited funds. Today we are fortunate to have substantial revenues flowing into local coffers. So much that one sometimes gets the impression that there is a lack of adequate planning, prioritization and accountability.

Example: The final reported building cost of the Grove Phase II was $9.9 million, $4.6 million or 88 percent above the estimates initially approved at $5.3 million. Before enacting significant funds for the legitimate need of housmg, I believe the voters need assurance that we can design and build projects efficiently and responsibly. SPET provides that accountability.

I hope local officials will rethink the funding pathway they wish to present the community.

John F. Turner
John F. Turner

John F. Turner

Former State Senator

(Teton, Sublette and north Lincoln counties)


Budge Slide: questions remain

Judd Grossman, candidate for town council, wrote the following on his Facebook page. We reprint here only because we at Save Historic Jackson Hole have been asking ourselves the same questions.

Regarding the Budge Slide, Town needs to do a better job of answering the following questions:

  • Who’s fault is the slide?
  • Do we understand what went wrong and have we taken steps to make sure that the errors aren’t being repeated?
  • Why should the taxpayers foot the bill?
  • If the taxpayers pay up front to fix the slide will Town be able to clawback the money once the courts decide who is liable?
  • Is the Town legal team aggressively fighting for the taxpayer’s interests?
  • What are the real odds of the slide creating catastrophic damage to Broadway?
Judd Grossman
Judd Grossman

Often public safety is used as an unassailable argument for government initiatives. Public safety is a core government responsibility, but needs to be tempered with return on investment based on real actuarial math, and a careful analysis of who is actually liable for the remediation. I’m reminded of the Great Recession bank bail out where the taxpayers were cajoled into bailing out the private sector in the name of impending economic disaster.

The SPET ballot process is the perfect venue for these concerns to be discussed and resolved. Which begs the question: Why are the Town and County killing SPET after August, and replacing it with their own unaccountable, blank check, money grab in the form of a General Excise Tax Increase? Are they expecting that we won’t have any more unexpected (or preplanned) big ticket capital expenses in the future?