The 2017 “Sixth Penny Tax” Projects in Laramie County

Did you know that state law allows counties, in cooperation with cities and towns, to fund specific projects through a voluntary sales tax? It’s called “The Sixth Penny Tax.”

There are nine projects on the ballot this year.  For projects that are approved by voters, a “sixth penny” sales tax will be added to the purchases you make. When the specific amount is collected, the tax stops.

Here is more information on this year’s proposed projects:

Court Expansion (Prop. 1)

The City of Cheyenne seeks $9 million for the construction of a new Municipal Court facility to be located at 2101 O’Neil Ave. as an addition or remodel to the City of Cheyenne’s current government building. The facility would house three judges (two court judges and a juvenile judge) and administrative staff.

Laramie County seeks $9 million to remodel and expand the existing Laramie County Courthouse to provide courtroom and office space for a fourth District Court Judge authorized by the Wyoming Legislature along with building systems and physical plant upgrades.

County Jail Expansion (Prop. 2)

Laramie County seeks $16,176,680 to construct an addition on the existing Laramie County Detention Center located at 1910 Pioneer Ave., for the purpose of expanding inmate capactiy, for any additional administrative space, and for updating and improving existing infrastructure of the current facility.

Christensen Project (Prop. 3)

The City of Cheyenne seeks $15 million for The Christensen Road and Overpass Project which begins at Commerce Circle, near the I-80 and Campstool Road interchange in the center of the Cheyenne LEADS Business Parkway. The new road crosses the Union Pacific Railroad mainline, then continues north to US Highway 30. The length of the project is 1.25 miles. Constructed with the road and bridge project will be a new water main and storm sewer for drainage. The absence of the Christensen Project is a critical public safety concern. This relates to access and response times for fire, police and emergency personnel, particularly to the eastern portion of the LEADS Business Park and to the I-80/Campstool developments and nearby neighborhoods.

Multi-Purpose Event Facility (Prop. 4)

$9,885,000 and interest earned thereon to the Laramie County Fair Board to be used for the design, construction, equipping, and furnishing of a Multi-Purpose Facility at the Laramie County Archer Complex. The proposed facility will be an open-span building that will host a variety of events year-round for both residents and visitors, including Trade Shows, Expositions, Sporting Events, RV Rallies, Concerts, and Horse and Stock Shows. The Archer Complex was purchased in 2004 by Laramie County for the purpose of a Multifunctional Campus for citizens to use and enjoy year-round.

Proposition 5 ($11.970 million)

  • Albin housing expansion
  • Burns road, parking, watering improvements
  • Pine Bluffs electric infrastructure improvements
  • Cheyenne Street Improvements
  • Cheyenne Greenway expansion/maintenance
  • Albin emergency generators/water source
  • Pine Bluffs clean water system renovation
  • Pine Bluffs new public works facility
  • Laramie County Fire District#1 construction of a new fire station

Proposition 6 ($11.969 million)

  • Cheyenne mulitpurpose indoor turf facility
  • Burns remodel/O&M of town owned facilities
  • Albin (O&M) new water meter system
  • Burns street maintenance
  • Laramie County radio equipment/O&M
  • Pine Bluffs refurbish recreational facilities

Proposition 7 ($14.870 million)

  • Albin replace vehicle storage facility
  • Burns dump truck and attachments
  • Albin replace parking lot at Town Hall
  • Pine Bluffs upgrade town cemetery
  • Laramie County emergency services storage
  • Cheyenne Construct Indoor Gymnasium/offices (O&M)
  • Burns 4th Street sewer line completion (O&M)
  • Cheyenne fire station improvements/fire engines

Proposition 8 ($8.848 million)

  • Albin purchase utility pickup truck, toolboxes
  • Cheyenne street improvements
  • Albin sewer line replacement
  • Pine Bluffs debt reduction
  • Cheyenne purchase land East Community Park
  • Pine Bluffs replace town equipment
  • Burns Radios, Pagers, and other communication equipment

Proposition 9 ($11,700,500)

  • Eastern Laramie County Solid Waste Disposal District purchase new scraper, shop addition
  • Laramie County enhance emergency computers
  • Laramie County Fire District #2 new station
  • Cheyenne West Edge District enhancements
  • Laramie County Sheriff video recording system
  • Pine Bluffs street maintenance/repair program
  • Albin replace existing water lines
  • Albin Community Center repairs/maintenance
  • Burns improvements to town parks
  • Burns improvements to water and sewer system

2016 Utah home sales highest on record

Utah Home Sales
With nearly 50,000 in sales in 2016, the Utah housing marketing continues to break annual sales records.

Utah’s booming economy, high job growth and low interest rates led the state to a record-breaking year for home sales in 2016. Statewide, Utah Realtors sold 49,399 homes, townhomes and condominiums — the most transactions ever in a single year and more than 800 sales higher than 2015.

That’s according to the newly released December 2016 housing market report from the Utah Association of Realtors.

For a decade, 2005 held the statewide record for the most homes sold in a year at 47,987 sales. Realtors crushed that record in 2015 as Utah’s housing market came roaring back. The momentum continued in 2016 with sales nearly 2 percent higher than the 2015 tally.

“Huge demand from buyers combined with low interest rates created incredibly high housing activity,” said DeAnna Dipo, 2017 president of the Utah Association of Realtors. “While that momentum could lose some steam because of increases in home prices and interest rates, markets are still hot. Even in January, which is the slowest month of the year for home sales, we’ve seen bidding wars for properties.”

In counties with more than 200 sales, the areas with the largest sales gains in 2016 were Wasatch County (up 16 percent), Sevier County (up 11 percent) and Washington County (up 9 percent).

With the high demand, home prices headed up in 2016. At $246,000, the Utah median sales price rose nearly 8 percent from 2015. Prices increased nearly $18,000 during the year. December marked the 57th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

In counties with more than 200 sales, prices increased the most in Summit County (up 19 percent), Sevier County (up 15 percent) and Wasatch County (up 12 percent).

Utah housing inventory remained at very low levels. As of Dec. 31, 2016, the number of homes for sale in Utah was at an all-time low, according to records dating back to 2003.

The 11,133 properties on the market represent a supply of 2.6 months. In other words, all homes would be sold in less than three months if no additional properties came on the market. Conversely, at the height of the housing downturn, it would take more than 12 months to deplete supplies.

Buyers have the most selection and least competition in the higher price ranges, especially for homes more than $500,000. In fact, sales in the $500,001-to-$750,000 category increased 24 percent. Meanwhile, sales fell in categories below $200,000 as buyers fought for relatively few houses.

“With the market moving as quickly as it is, it’s important for both buyers and sellers to be working with an expert who can guide them through the process,” Dipo said. “Buyers need to know how to make their offers competitive so they have the best chance of getting the property they want. On the other hand, sellers need to be very careful as they manage multiple offers — both to get the best price and to avoid going under contract with two buyers.”

Affordability continues to be a challenge, especially with higher interest rates. The Utah Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Index fell 10 percent in 2016 to 121. That means a Utah family making the median income had 121 percent of that needed to qualify for the median-priced home — lower than last year but still better than during the 2006-07 housing boom.

While the jump in interest rates after the election dampened some buyers’ enthusiasm, sales were still strong in December, up about 2 percent from last year. Pending sales, a measure of sales activity over the next couple months, also rose 16 percent — evidence the market is still active despite the higher costs.

Originally published in the UAR Blog.

Video: What Do First-Time Homebuyers Want?

First time buyers account for over 30 percent of all home buyers today and over half of the folks looking to buy. That means, if you happen to be thinking about selling, first timers may be your largest audience so it makes sense to know what they’re looking for and want in a home.

Montana REALTORS Discuss Homeowner Issues With State Legislators

Manoa flood
REALTORS® from across the state met with legislators to talk about a range of issues important to homeowners.

Montana REALTORS® are not only community builders they are political advocates, working to ensure that homeowners’ legal rights are protected and that they are given a voice in the Capitol. On February 15, a group of around 100 REALTORS® did just that by gathering together at the Montana REALTORS® Association (MAR) offices in Helena.

MAR assisted REALTOR associations throughout the state by organizing transportation so that REALTORS® from all areas could attend the event. Once assembled at MAR offices, the REALTORS traveled together to the state capital where they attended a rally and information session with Governmental Affairs Directors and guest speakers. Afterwards, REALTORS® spent one-on-one time discussing relevant issues with Butte-Silver Bow Legislators as well as others.

Rich Mayo, Vice President at MAR shared details about the event, “We welcomed the legislators to a luncheon in the rotunda of the capitol building. Tables were set up with elevated cards identifying the different regions of the state. Representatives sat at their respective tables with REALTORS® from their areas.”

Rocky Mountain Association of REALTORS® President Jennifer Shea touched on some of the topics that REALTORS® focused on during their time with state legislators. “We discussed water policies, mortgage exemptions, landlord tenant notifications, subdivision phasing, condominium and townhouse conversions as well as other bills facing both the Senate and House.” Mayo added that, “In addition to the conversation, we shared informational card packets containing perspective on all the bills we are working on and the rationale behind them.”

MAR felt that it was a very successful event with a lot of productive and healthy dialogue. “We are confident that the legislators left with a better understanding of what we are fighting for and why” stated Mayo. MAR plans to repeat A Day On The Hill next year and will continue to seek opportunities to advocate for homeowners.

Montana REALTORS Oppose Well Permit Ruling

The Montana Supreme Court recently upheld a water well permit ruling that could have serious consequences for state residents. Montana water use law requires permits to be obtained for all interconnected, water wells. Prior to the ruling, small, stand-alone wells that drew less than 35 gallons a minute and 10 acre-feet a year were able to bypass this permitting process.

This meant that developers, homeowners and farmers were able to install small, independent wells without going through an intensive permitting process. However, the court’s ruling reverts everything and forces landowners to go through a time consuming and outdated approval system in order to install a new well on their property.

Some conservationist are in support of this ruling because they have concerns that the increase in small wells will eventually create a reduction in groundwater levels and surface water flow. However, The Montana Association of REALTORS (MAR) disagrees and feels that upholding this ruling does a disservice to Montana residents.

“Exempt wells have served Montanans for years and the detailed scientific studies conducted determined that these exempt wells have virtually no impact on groundwater and stream flows,” MAR association CEO Taylor Oldroyd said.

The association is also concerned that the ruling will force new home developers to build subdivisions that are a great distance from each other. Creating an unwelcome sprawl that takes away from the beauty of Montana’s landscape.

Oldroyd shares that MAR will continue to work closely with their coalition partners in order to pass a new exempt water bill. One that will minimize regulations and support the historic well use that has served Montana developers and homeowners all these years.

Generation X Re-enters the Housing Market

New homowners

The number of Generation X home buyers is increasing thanks to an improving economy, multiple years of strong job growth and a notable increase in home values.

This is according to the National Association of Realtors® 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, which evaluates the generational differences of recent home buyers and sellers.

What’s been holding Gen X households back?

Unlike Millennials, Gen Xers have higher student loan debt, are more likely to have previously sold a distressed property, and are the generation most likely to have owed more on their mortgage than their house was worth.

“Gen X sellers’ median tenure in their previous home was 10 years, which puts many of them selling a property they bought right around the time home values were on the precipice of declining,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

“Fortunately, the much stronger job market and 41 percent cumulative rise in home prices since 2011 have helped a growing number build enough equity to finally sell and trade up to a larger home.”

“Fortunately, the much stronger job market and 41 percent cumulative rise in home prices since 2011 have helped a growing number build enough equity to finally sell and trade up to a larger home. More Gen X sellers are expected this year and are definitely needed to ease the inventory shortages in much of the country.”

The uptick in purchases from Gen X buyers this year (28 percent) was the highest since 2014 and up from 26 percent in 2016.

Millennials were the largest group of recent buyers for the fourth consecutive year (34 percent), but their overall share was down slightly from a year ago (35 percent). Baby boomers were 30 percent of buyers, and the Silent Generation made up 8 percent.

Take our home ownership quiz. Test your knowledge: Take the quiz!

Heavy Rains in Hawai’i Can Cause Catastrophic Damage to Property

Heavy rains can happen throughout the year, putting property at risk. Cresting streams and rivers, backed-up storm drains, and saturated ground can all cause serious damage when there is an excessive amount of rainfall.

In some instances, heavy rainfall can also lead to flash floods, a rapid flooding of low-lying areas in less than 6 hours. Flash floods are known to roll boulders, tear out trees, and destroy buildings and bridges.

Manoa flood

Flood waters pushed several vehicles into the trees immediately downstream from the Woodlawn Drive Bridge. Source: National Weather Service.

The Manoa Flood

In October 2004, a severe thunderstorm moved onshore from the east-northeast over the Koolau Mountains and into Manoa Valley, causing a flash flood in the early evening hours. The intense rainfall caused Manoa Stream to quickly overflow its banks in several areas.

The worst flooding occurred when a debris-clogged bridge diverted flood waters out of the normal stream channel and sent a flood wave through a residential area and into the University of Hawai’i at Manoa campus.

The worst flooding occurred when a debris-clogged bridge diverted flood waters out of the normal stream channel and sent a flood wave through a residential area and into the University of Hawai’i at Manoa campus.

Flood waters poured into the basement of Hamilton Library and damaged or destroyed archives containing irreplaceable documents. Several instructional facilities and laboratories with critical experiments also sustained significant damage.

Luckily, there were no deaths or reported injuries. But, the total damage reached an estimated $85 million, most of which occurred on the University campus. About 120 homes also sustained varying degrees of damage.

Are You Prepared for a Flood?

Residents and business owners need to prepare for flood conditions. Before the threat of flooding becomes imminent, residents and business owners should:

  • Purchase a flood insurance policy if they do not already have one.
  • Review their current insurance policy, become familiar with what is covered, and ensure the limits are adequate for their building and personal belongings.
  • Make an emergency kit, plan evacuation routes, and keep important papers in a safe, waterproof place.
  • Itemize and take pictures of possessions.
How can a flood impact you? Test your knowledge: Take the quiz!

Source: National Weather Service, Hawai’i Flood Information and’s Flood Risk – Heavy Rain Fact Sheet.

Video: Now is a good time to buy a home

In the latest quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) respondents were asked about their confidence in the U.S. economy and their housing expectations in 2017.

Iowa REALTORS® Fight For Home Savings Accounts

For some time, parents have been able to save money for their children’s education through tax-favorable 529 accounts. Now, the Iowa Association of REALTORS® is fighting to give similar benefits to first time home buyers.

“With home prices slowly rising and increasing student debt, young Iowans are having a hard time buying their first home. According to a recent housing study, 80% of Iowans support the First Time Home Buyer Program, ” said Gavin Blair, CEO of the Iowa Association of REALTORS®.

Proposed legislation would allow a first-time buyer to save $2,000 per year or $4,000 per year for two first time buyers filing taxes jointly. Parents and grandparents can also contribute to the fund. The funds could then be used for a down payment and closing costs for a home purchased in Iowa.

As part of their effort to get the legislation passed, 300 Iowa REALTORS® recently spent a day talking with state legislators. Iowa Realtors have been working the past few years to get this legislation passed. With renewed support and new leadership in the Iowa Senate and House, Iowa Realtors® are optimistic that the bill will pass this year.

Home savings accounts are an innovative way to make home ownership a reality for more people. Three states — Virginia, Montana, and Colorado — have now passed legislation that authorizes the accounts. The Iowa Association of REALTORS® is working hard to add Iowa to that list. Learn more at