Questions and Answers - Why is the 1/4 cent Sales Tax needed and how will Energy Capital Economic Development and Gillette College use the money?
The 1/4 cent optional tax to support Economic Development and Gillette College will be a defining moment for Campbell County.
This is an opportunity for us to control our own destiny and determine what our future will be as a community.
We either take charge, pay our own way forward, or leave our economic and educational future to the whims and control of others.
Energy Capital Economic Development Questions and Answers:
What has Energy Capital Economic Development done for Gillette and Campbell County?
- Energy Capital ED has worked diligently to diversify and expand our local economy. Our "Activities and Projects" page provides overviews and information on some of the things that we have done.
What is Economic Development?
- In a global sense, economic development is the choice to take charge of our own destiny as a community. It takes leadership, vision and a persistent effort over a long period of time to succeed. Visit our "What is Economic Development" page to get a better understanding of what, how and why of the basics of economic development in Campbell County.
- The work of economic development encompasses many different tasks and duties. It is important to understand that most of the work that we do is with businesses that manufacture, create, or mine something locally, then sell it nationally, or internationally. They are called "Primary" types of businesses or "Primary Industries." These types of businesses bring outside money into our community thus growing and expanding our economic base. Our work with retail types of businesses is limited and we do not recruit retail businesses to the community. Our efforts focus on building a strong economic base, if we have that then retail businesses will come. Here are several of the areas that we are involved with to help our community grow, expand and thrive:
- Business Retention and Expansion - This work involves working with existing businesses to understand their needs and finding ways to help them grow, expand and add jobs.
- Recruiting new and expanding businesses to the community
- Represent Campbell County, Gillette and Wright to businesses that inquire about expanding or relocating to the area. Work with those businesses to understand the benefits of expanding their business to our community and provide assistance to help them relocate or expand.
- Advocate for our businesses at the local, state and national levels.
- New business development - assist entrepreneurs to get their business up and running. This is the primary focus of the Energy Capital Enterprise Center.
- Much much more. Look at our "What is Economic Development" and our "Projects and Activities" pages to get a good idea of what Economic Development is and what we do.
How much is 1/4 cent and what will it cost me?
A 1/4 cent sales tax is one quarter of a penny on every dollar spent on taxable items. There are exemptions to the sales tax legislation including groceries, manufacturers, agricultural producers and much more. People and businesses with those exemptions do not pay any sales tax on their purchases.
- For a groceries purchase of $100.00 the tax is $0.00 (Food purchased at a grocery store is not taxed).
- For a $100 purchase the tax will be 25 cents.
- For a $1,000 purchase the tax will be $2.50.
- For a $10,000 purchase the tax will be $25.00.
- For a $50,000 purchase the tax will be $125.00.
- A family of three, with an average income of $45,000, will pay an estimated $27 per year, or slightly more than 7 cents per day.
To calculate the cost of the tax on an item purchased multiply 0.0025 times the sales price of the item you are purchasing. (0.0025 x cost of item = amount of 1/4% sales tax)
Where does Energy Capital Economic Development get their operational funding from now?
Our funding currently comes from the business community, projects that we have completed that generate revenue and from the 1% sales tax funds from the city and the county. If the 1/4% sales tax passes and the distributions start we will not take money from the city or county. We expect that most of the businesses will re-direct their contributions to other non-profit community based organizations.
Do we need to do economic development - isn't our local economy strong already?
- As the recent downturn in our local economy has shown, our economy is quite fragile and is too heavily dependent upon mining and minerals. Energy Capital Economic Development is responsible for ensuring a strong economic future for Campbell County. We have taken the initiative to be the leaders in this effort. We must have a growing, thriving and diverse economy to ensure a prosperous future. It takes planning, hard work, dedication, sufficient funding, and a great team to bring it all together. We have learned valuable lessons in this recent economic downturn, and it is clear we need to diversify our economy. We are too heavily dependent on energy, and when markets fluctuate we are adversely impacted. The two primary industries in Gillette are coal mining and the oil and gas industry. These provide us with a terrific economic base. They are good businesses with strong leadership and excellent people. However, with uncertain prices, fluctuating demand, growing competition from renewables and other technologies, and with growing political pressure against the minerals industry, their future is uncertain.
- The history of mining communities does not provide a lot of hope. Across the nation hundreds of towns that thrived and prospered with their economies based on local mines are now gone – ghost towns. Look at the mining communities in Appalachia; they are dying because they based their entire economic future on one industry. In our own state, there are cities and towns that based their existence on mining that, once the mines closed, ceased to exist. South Pass City, Atlantic City and Miners Delight. Every state, especially in the west, has several towns that were once mining towns and now are gone, but not forgotten. “That can’t happen today,” people say. Have you heard of Jeffery City? Without a dedicated effort, it can happen. That is why we must support and increase our economic development efforts. We cannot afford to stake our entire economic future on one or two industries.
Energy Capital ED gets money from the City and County 1% funds - will you continue to take money from the City and County?
We will not take additional funding from the city or county from the 1% sales tax fund once we start receiving the proceeds from the 1/4 penny sales tax. That will release over $200,000 back to the city and county for use to support other entities that use the 1% sales tax funding.
How will the community know what Energy Capital ED is using the money for?
We currently provide quarterly updates on our activities and projects to the County Commissioners and City Council. These are open to the public and provide a good overview of what we are currently doing. We have quarterly breakfasts hosted by local businesses that people can attend and find out about our activities. We also have a page on our website that provides current information on our projects and activities. We will keep this page up to date so that people can see what we are doing with the funds. If someone would like additional information they are always welcome to call or visit and we will be happy to discuss our projects and activities.
What will Energy Capital Economic Development do with the money - how will they help our economy diversify and grow?
Energy Capital ED focuses on assisting, recruiting and helping primary type industries. These are the industries such as minerals, mining, manufacturing and others that create a product here, then sell it across the world. These types of industries bring new money into the community, which grows and expands our economic base.
Energy Capital ED has a long-term strategic plan that will direct our community’s continued prosperity and success. This plan will require dedicated work, sincere effort and significant funding to achieve. The following provide information about some of the key aspects of the plan and how the tax-generated funds will be used.
- Energy Capital Enterprise Center EC2 : The Energy Capital Enterprise Center is a business incubator that will help new businesses get started. New business is very important to our community and we expect to help ten new businesses get started in the first couple of years of operation. These businesses will bring new jobs and opportunities to Gillette and help us diversify our economy. Using a Wyoming Business Council grant, Energy Capital ED purchased a building where the Enterprise Center will be located. Funds are needed to bring the incubator fully online and available for startups and newer businesses. By assisting these businesses, we will bring diversity to our economy and help provide a strong economic future. We want to assist those with the courage and desire to start and grow their own businesses. The Enterprise Center will help diversify our economy by helping create new manufacturing and technology-centered businesses.
- Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center (ACPIC - "Ice Pick"): Since the dawn of time coal has been used as a fuel source. Studies and research have shown that there are more useful and valuable ways to use coal. Almost everything that is refined from oil can be refined from coal. There is an incredible amount of lab research that demonstrates refining coal into products such as carbon fiber, asphalt, fuels of all types, activated carbon, char for agricultural use and much more are very practical. In most cases the research has stayed in the lab and has never developed into marketable commercial products. Times are changing, and there are opportunities to take existing research and commercialize it for new and profitable products. One critical piece is needed: a place where these technologies can be proven out on a small, pre-commercial plant size level. That is the purpose of the ACPIC; to have a place where the lab research can be taken from the lab and proven to be commercially viable. Once the process and products are proven, the next step is a commercial industrial manufacturing plant to make the product. This will provide two important parts of our future economic growth. First, we will have a more diverse economy that is not dependent upon the price, demand or political climate of coal, oil and gas. Second, with coal as the primary raw material for these Advanced Carbon Products, our people will still be mining coal, with the added bonus of new customers for their products. Energy Capital ED has obtained a $1.5 million-dollar grant to purchase the land and build a building for this facility. We are partnering with the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources to bring this opportunity to fruition.
- Business recruitment: Energy Capital ED is working with other communities in Northeast Wyoming to recruit new and expanding businesses to the community. By working to bring new and diverse businesses, we grow our economy and ensure a stronger economic future.
- Existing business growth and development: In recent years many of our industries have been under attack. As much as we are working to diversify our economy with recruitment, the Enterprise Center and the ACPIC, we must work harder to support and help our existing businesses. They are the backbone of our economy, and their continued success is vital for our future. We assist these local businesses in many ways, and we intend to expand that assistance.
- We are a strong advocate for our businesses, including the coal, oil, gas and other industries. We have hosted rallies, spoken at forums, lobbied the state and national political leaders, hosted forums and much more to advocate for our businesses. We will continue this work and hope to expand our efforts on behalf of our industry.
- We hold various events that provide networking opportunities for business and community members to meet, discuss and connect.
- Business growth often requires new and expanded facilities. Through the use of Wyoming Business Council Grants, we are able to assistance businesses with their facility expansion needs. By meeting with and continually surveying our local businesses, we can monitor trends, identify needs and find common targets for recruiting new businesses to the area.
- Develop business and industrial parks: In partnership with local developers and land owners we are working to expand the infrastructure and availability for business growth and expansion. Having adequate and shovel-ready places for businesses to locate is very important. We work with developers and land owners to provide shovel-ready locations for new and expanding businesses.
- Business loans – revolving loan fund (in partnership with local banks): Our strategic plan calls for development of a revolving loan fund that can be lent to local businesses needing short- or long-term loans. This would be done in partnership and with the guidance of local banks and financial institutions. Our ability to provide these loans is directly dependent upon our financial ability to do so.
- Business startup grants (business plan competitions, etc.): Our strategic plan has provisions for providing grants to local businesses. One method of providing the grants would be to hold a business plan competition. This would involve soliciting business plans from startups and newer businesses. A local panel of business, financial and other experts would judge the plans, and the most promising would receive a grant for partial funding and potentially receive space in the Energy Capital Enterprise Center to get their business going. Energy Capital ED’s ability to provide the grants is limited by the funds available.
- Nonprofit community organization loans and grants: A strong economy is nothing without a livable community. One of the important aspects of a livable community are the nonprofits that provide support to the families, citizens and businesses in the community. These community development organizations are an important part of the economic development in Campbell County. Energy Capital ED has written into our strategic plan the ability to provide loans and grants to local nonprofit organizations. Our ability to provide these loans and grants is directly dependent upon our financial ability to do so.
Will Energy Capital Economic Development hire additional staff?
- Energy Capital ED will need additional staff over the next several years in order to do all of the work required to ensure a diverse and expanding economy. There are two positions that will be added within the first year. Others will follow as the work increases and the demand for our services increase. The first two positions that will be added in the first year are the following:
- Position 1: Enterprise Center Director / Advanced Carbon Products Center Director / Business Recruitment Director. This position will provide direct support and development to our entrepreneurial, business development and recruiting efforts.
- Position 2: Town of Wright Community and Economic Development Director. This position will be based in Wright and will be responsible for the community and economic development efforts in Wright.
- The Energy Capital ED Strategic Plan provides the direction and plan for diversifying and expanding our economy so that we have a secure economic future. Energy Capital ED Strategic Plan
Gillette College Questions and Answers:
Why is there a need for the community to establish a fund to support Gillette College?
- Since opening the new campus in 2003, Gillette College has grown nearly 100% (1,200 students to 2,300 students).
- In that same time period, revenues supporting Gillette College have gone down (34% decrease in BOCHES support alone).
- Predictable, stable funding allows the College to better plan and provide essential educational services for the citizens of Campbell County.
- The College, along with community partners, is positioned to help retain and attract employers to Campbell County.
- The College contributes $64.8 million in direct and indirect economic impact to Campbell County (EMSI Feb. 2016 Study)
How is Gillette College funded now?
- Approximately 60% of Gillette College’s unrestricted revenues come from the State, part of the appropriation that goes to the District based on enrollments.
- Tuition and fees account for approximately 25% of the budget (tuition is set by the Wyoming Community College Commission for all community colleges in the State).
- The remaining 15% comes from support from Campbell County Health, the City, and the County to offset costs of operations as well as BOCHES. BOCHES was established to support Career and Technical programs and Gillette College. The BOCHES allocation for FY 18 is $1.65M, which is $900,000 below FY 16 amounts. NOTE: All of the revenues from BOCHES, City, County, Campbell County Health, and tuition remain in Campbell County. This would also be true of all of the revenue produced from a .25% tax.
- As an outreach comprehensive college, there is not a four mill levy tax assessed to all property owners, as is the case for all other community colleges in the State. The ¼ penny would be distributed broadly and would generate an appropriate revenue stream dedicated to cover a portion of the costs of operating the College.
What is the 1/4 penny economic development tax, and who pays it?
- If approved by the majority of voters in Campbell County on November 7, the 1/4 percent economic development tax would apply to taxable goods purchased within the County. This tax does not apply to food, gasoline, home purchases, prescriptions, or rental payments.
- Everyone who buys taxable goods in Campbell County contributes to the total collected. An estimated 20% of the tax burden will be covered by guests to our county, tourists, and part-time residents.
- It would be voted on every four years by the citizens of Campbell County, providing an additional measure of accountability.
How are the funds to be used?
Funds generated by this effort will directly support economic stability and growth in Campbell County by supporting both Gillette College and Energy Capital Economic Development.
- Gillette College’s focus is to provide higher education opportunities for citizens in Northern Wyoming.
- Students earning a credential increase their personal earning power.
- Students save money by starting their college career at GC.
- Employers continue to recruit GC graduates.
- These funds allow GC to continue to educate the citizens of our region, serve employers, and grow services for the public.
How much will the tax cost me?
- A ¼ cent tax costs the consumer one penny for every four dollar purchase of taxable goods.
- A family of three, with an average income of $45,000, will pay an estimated $27 per year, or slightly more than 50 cents per week.
- Here are a few examples of how the ¼ cent would impact purchases:
- A $20 t-shirt would add 5 cents.
- A $400 television would add $1.
- An $898 refrigerator would add $2.25
What is the current sales tax rate for Campbell and surrounding counties?
The current sales tax rate for Campbell County is 5% or five percent for a $1.00 purchase. Goshen County is the only county in the State currently utilizing the economic development sales tax, bringing their rate to 5.25%. Below please find the current sales tax rate in adjacent counties:
- Crook County 6%
- Converse County 5%
- Johnson County 5%
- Sheridan County 6%
- Weston County 6%
I don’t use the College, why should I support this tax?
- The vitality of our county rests in large part upon the quality of our educational system. Nearly 84% of our completers stay in Campbell County and become productive participating residents.
- We must retain our local talent and the best way to accomplish this is to provide access to an education that allows them to find gainful employment locally.
- All the data continues to suggest that the jobs of the future will require a credential beyond a high school diploma. Community colleges will become even more essential as we grow and support economies in the 21st
- Access to the appropriate certificates and associate degrees keeps our community strong and positions the community to diversify our economy. An educated citizenry is a cornerstone of a healthy community.
Why build new buildings at Gillette College and not use that money for operations?
- Gillette College has grown over the past decade into a comprehensive community college. In order to support that growth, capital projects included in the strategic plan were necessary.
- The funding for one-time projects differs greatly from funding for on-going operations.
- The Rodeo Ag and the Pronghorn Center received strong private support and support from the County Commissioners. The Pronghorn Center also received State dollars. Inspiration Hall, a new resident hall, is a collaborative project between the City of Gillette and the College. Paying off the College’s portion of the building does not draw from operational dollars as the costs of housing pays the debt.
- In each instance, the funding available was essentially a one-time offer.
How is the campaign for the tax being paid for?
- All promotional efforts are funded by private donations. No public funds are used.
What is the voting procedure?
The vote will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. - The polling locations have not yet been determined.
On the ballot, the question will look like this:
Shall Campbell County be authorized to adopt and cause to be imposed a one-quarter percent (.25%) excise tax as set forth in Wyoming Statute §39-15-203(a)(v), for a period of four (4) years, with proceeds to be deposited with the Campbell County Treasurer and annually allocated to Energy Capital Economic Development and the Gillette College of the Northern Wyoming Community College District for the purpose of economic development within and for Campbell County?
FOR THE COUNTY SALES AND USE TAX FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT __X___
AGAINST THE COUNTY SALES AND USE TAX FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT _____
Can I vote absentee?
Yes! Absentee ballots are available from September 22 to November 6. Here is a link to the Campbell County Elections page that provides information about registering to vote, absentee voting and other election related information
What can I do to help?
- Vote on November 7, 2017 or fill out an absentee ballot once they are available!
- Share your support for this effort with friends and neighbors.
- Invite a spokesperson from the committee to visit with any groups about this effort.
Articles and thoughts on the 1/4% sales tax for our future:
- Quarter Percent Economic Development Tax - My Thoughts - County 17 article
- College would get 65 percent of proposed tax - Gillette News Record
- College tax is worth every quarter-cent - Gillette News Record Editorial
- Officials recommend split for proposed sales tax - Gillette News Record
- A sales tax for an educated workforce - Gillette News Record Editorial
- Quarter percent sales tax - Gillette News Record
- Put it on the ballot - Gillette News Record Editorial
We welcome your questions - if you have a question that has not been answered please send us an email and we will post an answer on this page. info@EnergyCapitalED.com