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County to vote on sixth cent tax for water line replacement, street repairs

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Election Day

Voters head into the Industrial Building at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds on Nov. 3, 2020 in Casper. Polls will be open Tuesday in Natrona County for a special election.

Natrona County residents will vote today on whether to add a sixth cent of sales tax for three months next year to support a pair of construction projects in Casper, Midwest and Edgerton.

If passed, it would be the first time the county has implemented a specific purpose tax.

It aims to raise $4.3 million between April and June by adding an additional cent of sales tax to the state’s 4% rate and the county’s 1-cent tax, which has been approved by voters since 1974.

The money would be split between a water line replacement that would serve Midwest and Edgerton and renewing a section of Midwest Avenue in Casper.

Voting will be open at polling places across the county between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

To find your polling place, you can check the county’s online locator and precinct map at vote.natronacounty-wy.gov, or call the elections office at 307-235-9217.

Most people who voted in the last general election will be headed to the same place, as long as their address hasn’t changed. But if you live in Precinct 2-6, the area around Wyoming Boulevard between CY Avenue and Poplar Street, you’ll be heading to Radius Church instead of the Shrine Club this time.

The results should be in today evening, after the polls close. The tax is the only question on this year’s ballot.

According to County Clerk Tracy Good, 769 people had voted early and 534 more had sent in absentee ballots by Monday afternoon.

Good said she expects a much lower turnout for today’s vote than for a general election — the most recent one, in 2020, saw more than 35,000 voters. The last special election in Natrona County, in which voters decided on an indoor smoking referendum, saw just over 6,000 people cast ballots.

Today’s election is also the first time that voters will need to comply with the state’s newly passed voter identification law.

That means that anyone looking to cast a ballot today needs to bring one of the following: Wyoming or other U.S. driver’s license or ID card, a tribal identification card, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military card, a Medicare or Medicaid insurance card, or a student ID from a Wyoming public school, community college or the University of Wyoming.

If the tax is passed, $2 million will go towards replacing seven miles of the Salt Creek water line on a section that constitutes the only source of drinkable water for Midwest and Edgerton. It also serves the nearby Salt Creek oil field, the second most productive in the state. The current line is corroded, and has consistent leaking problems.

The $2 million would be the county’s local match, combined with state money already pledged from the Wyoming Water Development Commission.

In Casper, around $2.3 million from the sixth cent tax revenue would be used to renovate Midwest Avenue between Walnut and Poplar streets. Nearly $6 million in grant and 1-cent tax money has already been spent to improve other parts of the street, and the last section is the connector between downtown Casper and Poplar.

Natrona County Commission Chair Paul Bertoglio said in June there may soon be more traffic in the area once agencies start moving into the state office building on Collins Drive starting in February.

Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.

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