Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the correct definition of SPET, Specific Purpose Excise Tax.

JACKSON, Wyo. — This election cycle, 15 SPET items will appear on the ballot totaling $166,435,139 million in requested funding.

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.

If Teton County voters opt to vote “no” for all 15 SPET items, the additional penny sales tax will be removed bringing the sales tax from 6% to 5%. Wyoming has a 4% base sales tax.

In an effort to inform voters, similar items have been grouped into categories. First up is the five housing-related projects. The language that will appear on the ballot is included along with the project overview, cost and cost overrun plan.

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 likely 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.

St. John’s Health Housing

“$24,000,000 for planning, design, engineering, and constructing workforce rental housing, as well as overnight lodging for on-call hospital staff and patients/families. This project is sponsored by the Town of Jackson.”

The project application was submitted by St. John’s Health (SJH) and notes that it will be wholly owned by St. John’s Health. St. John’s Health Foundation will partner to fundraise for the project.

The housing project will utilize the SJH-owned Hitching Post property located at 460 E Broadway, which is 1.65 acres.

Project costs:

  • Design: $3.5 million
  • Construction, demolition, redevelopment fees: $60 million
  • Furnishings/fixtures: $2.5 million
  • Contingency: $9 million

The total cost is estimated at $75 million, for an estimated 100 units.

SJH also included a statistic about employee retention. According to the application, SJH experiences a turnover of 120-160 employees annually. the 12-month turnover is 180 employees.

“The number one reason employees give for leaving is housing/cost of living,” the application states. And, an internal housing review by SJH found that “23% of all employees and 26% of clinical employees surveyed are very likely or planning to leave St. John’s in the next 3 years because of housing concerns.”

Cost overrun plan

According to the application, “SJH envisions a 3-way partnership between the community via SPET, SJH, and the SJH Foundation via private philanthropy. SJH intends to borrow funds to the extent supported by the projected rental income stream. SJH will use hospital reserve funds and SJH borrowing to cover any overages for the project that cannot be raised by SJH Foundation.”

Teton County School District Employee Housing

“$16,000,000 for planning, designing, engineering, and constructing multi-family housing for Teton County School District employees. This project is sponsored by the Town of Jackson.”

Teton County School District #1 submitted the application, originally as a combined ballot item with the Broncs Achievement Center. The items have since been split into two separate ballot items.

The housing project aims to create 24 rental units on two-acres district property at the Jackson Hole Middle School. The monthly rent is estimated between $1,100-$1,800.

Project costs:

  • Design: $2.2 million
  • Construction: $10.8 million
  • Contingency: $2 million

TCSD #1 estimates that the housing project, if approved could be available for tenants to move in by Aug. 2024.

Cost overrun plan

In the application, the district noted they are pursuing a variety of funding sources in addition to SPET, including the fund for public education, private donations and cash reserves to address capacity suitability and housing.

According to the application, the district’s employee housing strategy study found that the district needs 170-250 units to meet the current demand to house employees.

Teton County Employee Housing

“$10,000,000 for the purchase of land and planning, designing, engineering, and constructing Teton County employee rental housing. This project is sponsored by Teton County.”

According to the application, submitted by Alyssa Watkins, Board of County Commissioner administrator, the project would create a mixed-use building with offices and housing at 252 and 254 E Simpson Ave, which is county-owned land purchased in FY22.

“The housing portion is the focus of the SPET request and would consist of multi-family rental units for Teton County employees,” states the application.

The project is estimated to cost $32,902,000 which includes:

  • Land aquastion: $3.8 million
  • Design costs:$2 million
  • Construction: $25 million
  • Furnishings/fixtures: $1 million
  • Contingency: $1 million
  • Operation and maintenance escrow: $102 million.

Operating and maintenance costs are expected to cost the county $34,000 annually.

Because the land is currently owned by the county, demolition and planning could occur in FY23, which begins July 1, 2023. Construction could then begin in FY24-25.

The county originally requested $20 million for the project but the Town and County elected officials opted to scale back the funding to $10 million when they finalized the SPET ballot items in July. The same was done for the Town of Jackson employee housing item.

Cost overrun plan

According to the application, the County General Fund and/or Capital Fund monies could be requested to offset project overages. State, federal and other grant funding could also be pursued. Project phasing could be implemented as needed if project costs exceed revenues allotted, as could alternate revenue sources, such as bonding.

Town of Jackson Employee Housing

“$10,000,000 for the purchase of land and planning, designing, engineering, and constructing Town of Jackson employee rental housing. This project is sponsored by the Town of Jackson.”

Former Town Manager Larry Pardee submitted the application on behalf of the Town. The proposal includes the development of three properties, currently owned by the town.

  • 55 Karns Meadow Drive: The town would build a three story building with 24 apartment units and 36 bedrooms, estimated to house 67 people. It would be 12 two-bedroom units, six one-bedroom and five studio units.
  • 485 Flat Creek Drive: Multiple ownership units.
  • 675 and 685 E Hansen Ave.

Project costs for all three projects:

  • Design: $2,564,000
  • Construction: $25,641,00
  • Contingency: $1,795,000

The total for all three projects is estimated at $30 million; the Town originally requested $20 million in SPET funding.

According to the application, the town listed vague timeframes for each project; Karns Meadow Drive (FY 23/24) and Flat Creek Drive and East Hansen projects (FY24/25) but noted that the Karns Meadow housing project has conceptual designs and cost estimates completed.

Cost overrun plan

According to the application, the Town “would look to bond all dollars not covered by SPET funding and if needed would use General, Capital and/or Employee Housing Funds.”

Community Housing

“$20,000,000 to preserve and create permanent affordable and workforce homes for local workers and their families. This may be accomplished through the purchase of deed restrictions and/or interests in land on which to design, plan, develop, engineer, construct deed-restricted housing in conformance with the Jackson & Teton County Housing Supply Plan. The Jackson Town Council and the Teton County Board of County Commissioners must authorize and direct the expenditure of these funds. This project is sponsored by Teton County.”

Jackson/Teton County Housing Department is the applicant for this project. The department plans to partner with private nonprofit developers and private for-profit developers.

No single site has been identified but various sites are listed in the application including sites currently owned by the town or county, sited acquired in the future by the town or county, and sites owned or acquired by partnering non-profit or private developers.

With no concrete site plans, the $20 million request is based on a per unit estimated investment of up to $250,0000 per unit for a minimum of 75 units.

The application also notes that this is the only housing-related SPET item that is not connected to specific employment.

Cost overrun plan

“Since the creation of the Housing Department, there have been no additional funding requests for projects due to cost overruns,” the application states.

If overruns occur, the Housing Department says they could request additional budget allocations, which come from the Town and County general fund or use expenditure fees collected from development mitigation. Donations, capital from private and non-profit partnerships, leveraging of capital and liquid assets and state and federal grant funding options were also listed.

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.