Park County Votes 2020: What? | Big Horn Basin Media

Park County Votes 2020: What?

Written by on October 29, 2020

There are several important local and state issues on the 2020 Election ballot – which could determine the funding available for the city, and county, and the world to know everything Cody has to offer.

There are four ballot propositions Park County voters will be asked to give their vote for or against.

1. Constitutional Amendment A

This is the only statewide issue on this election’s ballot.

The Wyoming Constitution has a provision setting a limit on the amount of debt the state’s municipalities can create for sewer projects. Voting for this issue would remove the constitution’s limit and allow the Wyoming Legislature to write a law determining the debt limit for future municipal sewer projects.

Mayor Matt Hall and other city officials are in favor of the amendment, saying it will improve and quality and safety of Park County’s waters.

2. Proposed One Percent (1%) Optional Sales Tax

Also called the 5th Penny Tax, this issue would add a 1% general purpose sales and use excise tax throughout Park County. Currently, only Park and Sublette Counties do not have this tax in place.

The money collected from this tax would be distributed to the county and its municipalities — Cody, Powell, and Meeteetse — based on population.

The Cody City Council voted in September that, if passed, the revenue from the 1% tax would only be used on essential services. Those services include:

  • School Resource Officers
  • Public Safety and Maintenance of Vehicles and Equipment
  • Annual funding for the Cody Senior Center, Park County Animal Shelter, and 4th of July festivities
  • Building maintenance and facility upgrades
  • Expanding and improving public parking
  • Replacing and updating outdated equipment in parks and facilities
  • A 50/50 sidewalk program, where costs for new sidewalks are shared with property owners
  • Asphalt overlaying major streets rather than just chip sealing
  • Extending Cougar Avenue to the east of Freedom Street
  • Continuing repairs to streets and rights-of-ways in the form of pothole repairs, paint striping, signage, patching, and chip sealing

If passed, this issue would be up for a vote in every subsequent election and until it is defeated.

3. Proposed Four Percent (4%) Lodging Tax

Park County has had this tax in place since 1986. It has been set at 4% since 1996.

If renewed, a tax of 4% will be added to every lodging bill in Cody: hotels, RV parks, campgrounds, AirBnBs, and any other overnight accommodation. Most of this revenue comes from tourists and other out-of-town visitors, not Park County residents.

All the money collected from this tax must be used for the promotion of tourism in Park County. It makes up the entirety of the Park County Travel Council’s $2 million budget.

The tax’s preview extends to all hotels and accommodations in the county including several Yellowstone sites: Mammoth, Fishing Bridge, Canyon, Norris, and Roosevelt.

Voting for this issue would keep the existing 4% lodging tax in place.

4. Proposition to Allow Pari-mutuel Wagering in Park County

Parimutuel betting is a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool; taxes and other costs are deducted, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all winning bets.

Teton County is the only county in northwest Wyoming that currently allows pari-mutuel wagering.

If passed, this tax would collect revenues from in-county betting on horse races. The bets would be made live on simulcast horse races or slot machine-esque terminals that would be installed in any venue interested in participating.

Sheridan County – the closest county to Cody – legalized pari-mutuel wagering in 2019. The revenues were over $341 thousand.

Voting for this issue would allow pari-mutuel wagering and Park County to collect taxes on the revenues earned. Terminals for the bets would be installed in participating venues.

The polls for the general election open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, although both absentee and early in-person voting are still viable options.

Check out our 2020 Election Voting Guide for more information on where and when to vote.

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