On August 8 & 9, the Joint Revenue Committee met in Thermopolis to discuss the revenue shortfall in Wyoming's budget. A deadline of November 10 looms ahead of next year's legislative session, to report on possible revenue generating options to offset the hundreds of millions in deficit.
Campbell County Commissioner Rusty Bell, who also sits on the Chamber's Business Advocacy Committee, provided comment to the Joint Revenue Committee about the optional statewide sales tax.
A proposed extra 1% sales and use tax would reportedly generate $140 million annually. Commissioner Bell stated to the committee that any sales tax imposed at the state level would make it harder for optional 1% sales and use taxes on the local level to be passed.
Other ideas being discussed by the committee are broadening the state sales tax to include items not currently taxed, like groceries. A grocery tax at the full sales tax rate currently exists only in South Dakota, Mississippi, and Alabama. According to projections, taxing groceries, newspaper sales, farm implement sales, religious and charitable sales, manufacturing machinery sales, repairs to railroad rolling stock, and data centers would generate $234 million in additional revenue.
You can download a full report here:
Astronomy magazine is predicting that this month's eclipse will be the most-viewed ever. They're basing that on the attention it's getting from American media, the good coverage our highways will give for it, the typical weather this time of year, and the number of people who will have access to the eclipse's path. They also recently published a list of facts about the eclipse. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Solar eclipses only happen at New Moon. The Moon has to be between the Sun and Earth for a solar eclipse to occur. The only lunar phase when that happens is New Moon.
2. Eclipse totalities are different lengths. The reason the total phases of solar eclipses vary in time is because Earth is not always at the same distance from the Sun and the Moon is not always the same distance from Earth. The Earth-Sun distance varies by 3 percent and the Moon-Earth distance by 12 percent. The result is that the Moon’s apparent diameter can range from 7 percent larger to 10 percent smaller than the Sun.
3. Everyone in the continental U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse. In fact, if you have clear skies on eclipse day, the Moon will cover at least 48 percent of the Sun’s surface. And that’s from the northern tip of Maine.
4. Cool things are afoot before and after totality. Keep your eyes open during the partial phases that lead up to and follow it. Around the 75% mark, you’ll start to notice that shadows are getting sharper. The reason is that the Sun’s disk is shrinking, literally approaching a point, and a smaller light source produces better-defined shadows. At about 85% coverage, someone you’re with will see Venus 34° west-northwest of the Sun. If any trees live at your site, you may see their leaves act like pinhole cameras as hundreds of crescent Suns appear in their shadows.
5. Nature will take heed. Depending on your surroundings, as totality nears you may experience strange things.
Look: You’ll notice a resemblance to the onset of night, though not exactly. Areas much lighter than the sky near the Sun lie all around the horizon. Shadows look different.
Listen. Usually, any breeze will dissipate and birds (many of whom will come in to roost) will stop chirping. It is quiet.
Feel. A 10°–15° F drop in temperature is not unusual.
6. Maximum totality is not the longest possible in 2017. The longest possible duration of the total phase of a solar eclipse is 7 minutes and 32 seconds. Unfortunately, the next solar eclipse whose totality approaches 7 minutes won’t occur until June 13, 2132. Its 6 minutes and 55 seconds of totality will be the longest since the 7 minutes and 4 seconds of totality June 30, 1973.
7. Only one large city has a great view. The 609,000 people lucky enough to live in Nashville, Tennesee, will experience 2+ minutes of totality. According to Astronomy, Denver will only reach 92% totality, which means Gillette is a better place to be during the eclipse!
Get your plans together for the eclipse! Travel may be difficult and interruptions in delivery services may make any last minute necessities difficult. Make sure your prescriptions are filled the week before, and you have plenty of groceries.
And make sure you know the "official" Wyoming Eclipse hashtag brands to use: #WYEclipse #ThatsWY and #WYSkies.
Gillette Main Street vendors reached a compromise with the City on July 18th, to change a parking fine increase ordinance from a fee of $15, to $7. Previously the City wanted to increase the $2 fine for overstaying a 2 hour parking limit to $15, something most business owners on Gillette Avenue objected to.
John Daly, owner of Daly & Sorenson, a law office on Gillette Avenue, spoke to the Council on August 1 about how construction around the courthouse has already affected both where he and his clients can park, and their access to the courthouse.
"I own five lots either on Main Street or near Main Street," he told City Council last Tuesday. "The impact of increased parking in this parking deal is that those people move in to our off-street lots. So there's a parking problem for us. While this may satisfy some merchants on Main Street, it doesn't satisfy those of us who have businesses where people take more than two hours."
Daly cited the other law offices, the multiple banks on Main Street, and even Dunlap Photography as businesses where clients will spend more than the two hour limit. He then contrasted with how anyone can park for free for weeks at a time at Wal-Mart and other stores in the Powder Basin Shopping Center. He preferred the City either throw out the ordinance amendment, or make all parking in the City free.
"We cannot afford to go around with our two officers for $2 a ticket. It does not pay. Seven doesn't either, really, but that is the compromise," Mayor Louise Carter-King told Daly.
The City Council voted unanimously to change the parking fee to $7. A charge of $5.00 for "extended overtime" parking for each successive 30 minute period thereafter stays the same, as well as a $10 fine for not paying a parking ticket within 24 hours.
Sprout Social recently surveyed 1,000 Millennials (people aged 18-34), Generation X'ers (people aged 34-54) and Baby Boomers (everyone over 55) to see how they engaged with brands on social media. It's no surprise to learn that Facebook dominates in terms of usage across generations, but it may concern some to know that focusing all your social media marketing strictly through Facebook ignores the Millennial's preference for other platforms -- namely, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.
While social media users in their thirties and up far and away prefer Facebook, Millennials seem to split their time evenly between the three biggest platforms right now (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.) This is important because the same survey found that almost half of everyone aged 18-34 not only follows, but has loyalty to brands on social media. They're also twice as likely to interact with these brands versus anyone over the age of 55.
If you're interested in marketing towards this age group, you're going to have to venture outside of Facebook. For those of you already keeping a company Instagram to push promotions and sales, keep up the hard work. And consider something else the Sprout survey discovered: Generation X'ers are more likely to purchase something from you because they follow you on social media, more than any other age group.
It's also fairly easy to keep them happy and following, as well: Don't be spammy, annoying, or offensive, and seven out of every ten Gen X'ers will choose your brand first.
For the complete survey results, click here.