April 14, 2020
Dear Management Council,
Thank you all for your service to Wyoming, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you all know, Wyoming small businesses are facing extraordinary challenges, with many closed or performing minimum operations during this pandemic.
Wyoming small businesses will be ready to get back to business when it is safe. Many will find themselves in financial situations that jeopardize their ability to re-hire all employees or even continue to operate.
With tourism as Wyoming’s second-biggest economy, getting our restaurants, lodging and retail uses back and stronger than ever has never been more vital. To show our small business owners that Wyoming’s leaders are supporting their efforts, we are asking for a 6-month deferral on commercial property taxes for the 2020 assessments, also including any 2019 assessments that are not yet paid.
We do not ask this lightly as we know these payments support our K-12 education system. However, making this decision will help shore up our foundation for taxes – small businesses throughout Wyoming. In turn, when our small businesses and tourist economy comes back, our tax resources will also be there to once again to support all of our education efforts.
When we look 3-5 years down the road, the best scenario will be that 95%+ of our Wyoming businesses will still be operating. While these deferments and cuts are difficult in the short term, their long-term benefits to mom and pop stores and lodging will be felt for decades to come.
After the six-month delay, if sales and use taxes are still down 35%, we ask that the State consider an across the board reduction in all commercial property taxes provided by money from the COVID-19 crisis and federal relief.
These steps will benefit all small businesses throughout Wyoming, whether they own the property or rent. As commercial renters will have these benefits passed down in their rent, and owners will have the benefit of working with their tenants.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter, and we very much appreciate all the work you are doing so soon after the session.
Jackson Hole Working
Earlier this week, the Wyoming State Legislature Joint Corporations, Elections and
Political Subdivisions Committee held a meeting in Jackson. In scheduling the meeting
here in Jackson, the Committee cited a desire to hear directly from its citizens about
some of the opportunities and challenges we face in Teton County.
Jackson Hole Working, a local non-profit that has been advocating for small businesses
and working families for more than four years, was pleased to participate in this
democratic process by hosting a ‘Lunch and Learn’ for the committee. ‘Lunch and Learns’
are simply sponsored lunches where hosts have the opportunity to discuss issues
important to them with legislators. These lunches occur all the time during
committee meetings throughout the state and nearly every single day in the Wyoming
State Capitol during Legislative Session. These lunches are public and informal with no
Jackson Hole Working used this opportunity to talk about a host of issues we have been
working on for the past several years including increasing professional job
opportunities, housing, businesses and families leaving the valley, challenges to
growing businesses, early childhood education and childcare. We discussed our shared
lived experiences of trying to start and grow businesses, hire employees, buy homes and
raise our families here in Jackson.
The stories and messages we shared with the Joint Corporations Committee are the
same messages we have shared repeatedly with our Town and County elected officials,
state and the local community on a regular basis for the past four years. We have had
representation at nearly every Town and County meeting over the last four years.
Jackson Hole Working regularly reaches out to Town Councilors and County
Commissioners, voicing our opinion on critical issues and constantly working to be
collaborative partners in this community.
Jackson Hole Working’s mission is to find balance in protecting our valley’s natural
resources, wildlife and unique community character while ensuring this is a place where
working people can raise their families and run a business.
Jackson Hole Working is NOT against housing. Our Board Members have contributed
greatly to the valley’s housing supply and supported commonsense policies that would
remove roadblocks to building multi-family housing units. We know first-hand the
challenges facing small businesses in providing housing for our valued community
members, neighbors and friends. And we are committed to being part of the solution.
Jackson Hole Working has never taken a position on legislation. At no point during
Monday’s lunch did Jackson Hole Working bring up a specific bill or advocate for it one
way or another.
It is our hope that discussions surrounding proposed legislation will provide an
opportunity to, again, sit down with our local elected officials to discuss housing and
other issues that affect families and the working class in Jackson.
When it comes to housing solutions for Teton County, there is no silver bullet. Jackson
Hole Working hopes to see a robust plan that includes incentives, the return of zoning
tools responsible for much of the affordable housing in our community; Town and
County leadership on large scale housing projects; and the inclusion of innovative
Jackson Hole Working has been pleased to work with our County Commissioners, Town
Councilors and staff for the past four years. While we have not always seen eye-to-eye,
we have appreciated our working relationship and look forward to continuing this
dialogue and collaboration into the future.
September 9, 2019
Dear Chairwoman Macker, Mayor Muldoon, County Commissioners and Town Councilors,
Early childhood education has a tremendous impact on the well-being of a community and its residents.
There is certainly no shortage of studies to show that investments made early on pay off in significant dividends throughout one’s life. Whether prenatal, postnatal, or early childhood education – every dollar invested has shown returns of anywhere from $4 – $12 for each $1 spent.
These same studies often show not only the financial benefits to a community but much more importantly, the benefits to the individual child and family unit. These benefits can be life-changing.
Especially in Teton County, access to affordable, reliable early childhood education can be the difference in improving a family’s socioeconomic status. Enrolling in childcare can open the door to parents being able to take career goals further, expanding their skills, knowledge and income.
Studies have shown that mothers of children who were enrolled in childcare, on average, could expect $133,000 in additional earnings over their lifetime.
For the child, a secure place to learn and explore can offer a child a wide variety of learning and social opportunities that will magnify throughout their lives.
On par with housing, childcare is an essential need in our community. Some families are faced with difficult decisions every day in Teton County of whether a parent can return to work or afford childcare.
An inventory of all childcare providers, waitlist numbers, etc. will serve to educate our community as well as provide a baseline of what we need and how to achieve goals of affordable, reliable childcare.
We support moving forward with this inventory and know this vital information will provide the foundation for the next steps on this critical issue.
Thank you for your leadership on this issue for Teton County families, children and our community.
Jackson Hole Working
August 19, 2019
Dear Chairwoman Macker, Mayor Muldoon, Teton County Commissioners and Town Councilors,
Transportation is an issue that every person in this community cares about and its effects on their daily life. Whether walking to restaurants, driving to work, biking to errands, or riding the START Bus to events – we all care about how people move around this valley.
Our community has invested in START buses, infrastructure, pathways, and trails to provide alternative transportation opportunities around, in and out of Teton County.
START has been successful in removing the volume of cars off the road, even surpassing one million riders for the last two years. These are proud accomplishments and show that many partners and advocates are working collaboratively to encourage people to get on the bus.
START began in Teton County in 1987 to be the skier’s transportation from the town to Teton Village. Now 32 years later, START has expanded to the Town Shuttle service, Alpine and Star Valley, Victor and Driggs as well as maintaining its original purpose.
START has been facing funding issues for several years and a 2017 working group provided several funding solution possibilities after many, many hours of work. However, now, almost two years later, not one of those recommendations has been implemented.
Our ITP calls out START as one of the fundamental solutions to our transportation goals and calls for 1.25 million riders by 2020.
Increasing ridership is a community goal which requires community solutions. START funding cannot be predicated on one business or entity. We need an equitable, sustainable model to fund START Bus services. We encourage you to work with your current partners and new partners to find solutions and move forward by discussing the working group’s recommendations.
Thank you for your work on transportation and reducing traffic in our community.
Jackson Hole Working
July 22, 2019
Dear Chairwoman Macker, Mayor Muldoon, Teton County Commissioners and Town
Thank you for considering updating some of the Housing Rules & Regulations that
were adopted last summer. It has been slightly over a year since they were adopted,
and keeping these rules and regulations evolving with additional data and
consideration is crucial for housing in our community.
We fully support keeping the requirement that homeowners should occupy their
affordable and workforce restricted homes at a minimum of 10 months per year. This
requirement aligns with the community goals of housing people who live and work in
Teton County. Members of the workforce, who live locally, are more likely to be
engaged in community activity; volunteer their time; raise families, and contribute to
the fabric of community life. 10 out of 12 months a year provides a reasonable
framework and still allows for the homeowner or renter the flexibility of being away 60
days a year.
The minimum occupancy requirement is an interesting policy and one that probably
should remain flexible given how the demographics of those applying for housing
changes from project to project and year to year. Our community goal is to house more
people, so applicants that meet 1 or 2 adults plus at least one dependent should get a
weighted application for a 2-bedroom unit. Couples should be allowed to enter lotteries
for 2-bedroom units with the caveat that families that can immediately fill all bedrooms
will get priority.
One-bedroom unit inventory is low for the number of individuals and couples applying
for units that come available. The weighted drawing for adults plus dependents will
ensure that more bedrooms are being occupied and not empty, while still providing
housing opportunities for couples in Teton County.
Reliable, affordable childcare is essential for a community, family, and workforce. Early
childcare is a growing need in our community, and several places are wrestling with
how to keep teachers, many of whom live in Victor/Driggs and Alpine. Last winter, with
its multiple road closures, proved that not only our TCSD teachers but also our early
childhood teachers need access to affordable housing in Teton County.
Early childhood caretakers and teachers should be added to the definition of “teacher”
under the Housing Rules and Regulations. This identification is a critical step to
recognize their importance in our community and to the invaluable service they provide
to families and the individual child.
Thank you again for taking up these policy questions for discussion, and we hope that
you will continue to work towards a variety of housing solutions for Teton County.
Jackson Hole Working
June 24, 2019
Dear Chairwoman Macker, Mayor Muldoon, Teton County Commissioners and Town Councilors,
The Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) has been a vital voter-driven tax in our community for almost 40 years. Since the 1980s, Teton County voters have approved:
- $42 Million for Education
- $35 Million for Hospital Infrastructure
- $39 Million for Town and Teton Village Sidewalks, Water/Sewer
- $12 Million for Transportation
- $15 Million for Trash Transfer Station
Teton County voters are educated and engaged. They show up to the polls in high percentages (96% in 2016 General Election) to exercise their right to weigh in on issues and elected positions. We ask that you trust your citizens and please do not move forward with bundling SPET items on the 2019 SPET ballot.
It is critical that each voter recognize that our elected officials have worked very hard to put up a slate of capital projects, all very worthy of their serious consideration, to be voted upon, individually, by the voters of Teton County.
SPET’s motto is “Your penny. Your projects. Your vote.” We ask that you do not bundle SPET initiatives and allow voters the opportunity to weigh in on community capital projects and exercise their right to support each project on its merits.
Thank you for the many hours, conversations and meetings you have given to each of these proposed items and the SPET process. We hope that you will continue to allow the people to make the final decision on SPET.
Jackson Hole Working
Letter to Town Council dated March 17, 2017:
Dear Jackson Town Council,
Thank you for your continued work on behalf of the town and our community. We recognize that there are many challenges in front of you, particularly in regards to meeting housing and transportation needs, and we appreciate your vision and commitment to finding solutions.
Jackson Hole Working (JHW) is committed to supporting policies and projects that meet the goals of the Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan, including housing 65 percent of our workforce locally.
As you know, this community has been discussing the need for workforce housing for decades; long before the Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan was adopted, during the comp plan process and long after. The truth is that in order to make real strides in housing our workforce locally, we need tools and policies in place to support 100% private sector rentals being built and financed.
We applaud the Town Council and County Commission for their vision and leadership in placing housing projects on the SPET ballot, but we need ALL options on the table when it comes to meeting our workforce housing needs.
JHW respectfully asks for your support this Monday, March 20, 2017 on the Text Amendment on Affordable Housing Standards to Exempt Apartments.
If we are going to make large strides in meeting our workforce housing needs, our community needs the private sector engaged in solving perhaps our valley’s greatest challenge. By eliminating road blocks and streamlining the process, we open the door to private sector solutions that benefit our community members most in need of stable, rental workforce housing.
We understand the concerns that have been voiced about deed restrictions guaranteeing those apartments are rented by the workforce; however, JHW supports the notion and idea that apartment buildings, like Blair Place, are inherently workforce rentals. By including restrictions to this text amendment that apply to apartment buildings of ten units or more, and whose rooms do not exceed maximum habitable floor area as established in the Housing Department Rules and Regulations, we feel confident that these units will be almost solely rented by the workforce.
JHW supports public, public-private and private sector workforce housing solutions that will help Teton County reach our ultimate goal of housing 65 percent of our workforce locally.
We would like to thank the Town Council for approving the exemption of interior corridors from the calculation of FAR in apartment buildings of 10 units or more. JHW supports these types of creative initiatives that will help continue to remove barriers of getting housing on the ground.
We hope to continue to work together to bring housing solutions to Teton County. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Mark Barron, High Country Linen Service
John Carney, Carney Logan Burke Architects
Kelly Lockhart, Lockhart Cattle Co.
Ted Staryk, Snake River Brewery
Jackson Hole Working Board of Directors
Make your voice heard to our elected officials that you want to come together as a community to create a balanced plan with holistic vision, one that stays true to the thousands of citizens who helped shape the 2012 Comp Plan.
Email Jackson Town Council:
- Email all the Town Council at [email protected]
- Sarah Flitter: [email protected]
- Hayley Morton: [email protected]
- Don Frank: [email protected]
- Bob Lenz: [email protected]
- Jim Standford: [email protected]s
Attend Special Joint Meeting
- Tuesday, April 19 at 6:00pm
- Town Council Chambers
- Agenda: http://townofjackson.com/agendas/special-town-council-meeting39
Major changes are afoot in our community, so let’s think it through and connect the economic dots.
We want to come together as a community to create a balanced plan with a holistic vision, one that stays true to the hundreds of citizens who helped shape the 2012 Comp Plan. The downtown core is just one zone in the valley. Rather than approaching the balance of housing and opportunity from just one angle, we think a broader vision is possible that takes more community voices into account while protecting the unique character of the town we all know and love. #thinkaboutitjh