Q1. How much One Cent money is there?
In fiscal year 2008 (July 2007 through June 2008), just over $22 million was collected and redistributed throughout the county. (Each town and the county share the One Cent revenue based on population.)
The City of Casper is expecting to collect $48 million in optional sales tax revenue for the current four year allotment (February 2011 through February 2015), which does not include the revenues anticipated by the other towns or the Natrona County government. But predicting how much will be collected over the next four year period is tricky. Since it's a sales tax, the amount collected varies depending on the health of the economy - for example, our local economy is much weaker now than it was in 2007, so this year's One Cent sales tax income is trending to be much lower than the $22 million collected then. The authorization also lasts for four years, so the prediction has to take into account not just next year's economy, but also the three years after that.
Q2. What is the Optional One Cent Tax?
Answer: The Optional One Cent Sales Tax is a 1% tax on items that are bought and sold anywhere in Natrona County, including Casper, Mills, Evansville, Bar Nunn, Midwest and Edgerton.
Q3. Why is it called the "Optional One Cent Tax"?
Answer: It is "Optional" because it is a tax that must be approved directly by the voters every four years. It is a "One Cent" sales tax because it adds one penny of tax to every dollar spent on a taxable item.
Q4.What about the first four cents of sales tax?
Answer: State law mandates a 4 percent sales tax statewide, or four cents on every dollar spent to purchase a taxable item. The state keeps 2.8 cents of this, so only 1.2 cents is left to be distributed to the towns and the county.
Unlike the regular sales tax, all of the Optional One Cent stays within the county. From a taxpayer's point of view, the One Cent is just one fifth of the sales tax that they have to pay, but from a town's perspective, the One Cent is almost half of the sales tax revenue.
Q5. Who pays this tax?
Answer: Anybody who buys a taxable item anywhere in Natrona County has to pay the tax. "Anybody" includes residents, but it also includes people who are here as visitors, tourists, or business travelers. Most things that can be bought or sold are "taxable items" but this does not include food bought from grocery stores. Anything that's exempt from the regular sales tax is also exempt from the Optional One Cent sales tax.
Q6. Is this a new tax?
Answer: No. The Optional One Percent Sales Tax was first passed by the voters in 1974, and the voters have re-authorized it regularly since then, including the most recent re-authorization in 2010. The current sales tax rate in Natrona County is 5%, which includes one penny (1%) for the Optional One Cent.
Q7. How has the City of Casper spent its One Cent funding in the past?
Answer: The City of Casper has a long standing policy of spending the One Cent only on Capital. This means roads, water lines, buildings, equipment, vehicles, and other things that tend to have a long useful lifespan. The city has sought to avoid spending it on day to day expenses like employee salaries.
Q8. Does it apply to food?
Answer: No, the Optional One Cent does not apply to food. In Wyoming, the only taxable foods are foods that are meant to be eaten where they are purchased, like food bought in restaurants.
Q9.What is "Perpetual Care"?
Since 1986, the City of Casper has been saving a portion of its One Cent revenues into two funds called Perpetual Care Funds. Perpetual Care was conceived as a way to create a funding source to help maintain the buildings that were built with the One Cent. Perpetual Care money is saved in a trust fund. The City never spends the principal, but it does spend the interest earned on these savings to help maintain these buildings and keep their doors open. Currently we use this interest earned for regular building maintenance (floors, walls, windows) and to subsidize the operations of some of the larger Leisure Services facilities, like Hogadon, the Casper Events Center, and the Ice Arena.