JACKSON, Wyo. — Two environmental-related SPET items will be on the ballot this year related to land conservation and energy conservation.

The language that will appear on the ballot is shared below, along with a brief overview of how the funding will be used. Unlike other SPET items, these two proposals do not have cost overrun plans because the potential projects are not construction related or the funding will be used to match funds raised.

As a reminder, SPET stands for Specific Purpose Excise Tax, which is a voter-approved one-cent sales tax in Teton County on most goods and services excluding unprepared foods, like groceries.

SPET 101: How it works

  • Yearly SPET collections are estimated at $21 million.
  • It’s estimated that 2019 funding will be fully allocated by the end of December 2023.
  • For SPET measures voted on in 2022, funding will be allocated to receiving entities starting in January 2024.
  • Projects that require less funding aren’t necessarily funded first.
  • Funding is allocated monthly based on a percentage.

Teton County Land Conservation Opportunities

“$8,000,000 for the Teton County Scenic Preserve Trust to acquire interests in state trust or private land to conserve wildlife habitat, protect open space, protect historic agricultural uses, protect scenic values, and protect public access. This project is sponsored by Teton County.”

The applicant for the project is Friends of Munger Mountain, which originally requested $10 million.

Friends of Munger Mountain was created in 2021 “in response to threats to develop the 640-acre Munger Mountain State Schools Trust Land.”

The incorporated association stated, “our State elected officials, in particular the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB), are under increasing pressure to maximize the financial return on Teton County State Trust parcels for the benefit of Wyoming State Schools. In some cases, this pressure may translate to misguided commercial development and other activities.”

According to the application, parcels they plan to explore include Munger Mountain and Highway 390 state school lands but note that funds would not be limited to those properties. Friends of Munger Mountain plans to propose a 20-year conservation lease for the Munger Mountain parcel when a request for proposals is released by the SLIB.

With no construction projects, there are no cost overruns to consider. Friends of Munger Mountain plants to combine the SPET funds with private donations. They also plan to obtain support from other organizations, including Jackson Hole Land Trust, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Wyoming Outdoor Council.

Energy Conservation Works Projects

“$5,000,000 for funding community solar and/or other local renewable energy generation; alternative fuel transportation projects; energy audits; planning, design, and construction of energy conservation and emission reduction projects. This project is sponsored by the Town of Jackson.”

Energy Conservation Works (ECW), the applicant, is a joint powers board authorized by the state. Teton County, the Town of Jackson and Lower Valley Energy are Members of the ECW
Joint Powers Agreement. ECW originally requested $10 million.

According to the SPET application, ECW anticipates that a key use of the requested SPET
funds will be to provide a required local match for local, state and federal funds. To acquire outside funding, a local match of about 20% is required. The SPET funding will primarily be used to make those matches.

At this stage potential projects are relatively vague and include things like a community solar project and increased electric vehicle charging stations. The application states, “all projects and costs would be publicly approved.”

In terms of timeframe, ECW plans to evaluate projects on a rolling basis, once SPET funds begin to be received. According to ECW, the same approach was used with the 2010 SPET funds and allowed for projects to be funded as opportunities arose.

Learn more about the housing-related and educational-related SPET items and how SPET is funded and distributed.

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.