Like a book club, but less of a commitment.
Read and discuss thought-provoking articles with local electeds.
Discussions take place in the fireplace area of the library. Please arrive by 7:05 p.m., as these programs are after-hours, and the front door must be staffed for you to enter.
Swap Meet Schedule:
WY Representative Liz Storer
WY Senator Dan Dockstader
WED, OCT 11
Article: Property Tax Relief for Homeowners by Adam H. Langley & Joan Youngman (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, March 2022)
Increases in property values continue to drive property taxes sky-high in Teton County, making it challenging for many in the valley to continue to live here. Legislators from NW Wyoming, where residents are being hit the hardest, responded by sponsoring successful legislation to expand the state property tax refund program, give counties the ability to implement their own refund program, and put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2024 to create greater flexibility in our property tax system. But there are more steps to consider; helping citizens understand Wyoming’s tax policy framework and the tradeoffs and challenges inherent in that framework can help them be effective advocates for this important issue.
Town Councilor Jim Rooks
County Commissioner Wes Gardner
WY Senator Mike Gierau
THUR, OCT 12
Article: Why State and Local Relationships Matter to national Prosperity: A Case for Economic Collaboration by Amy Liu & Peter Rezk (Brookings, January 2023)
As elected representatives at the State, County and Town levels, we selected this article due to its focus on the complex and oftentimes contentious relationship between state and local governments. The article details the incredible importance of cooperation between all levels of the federalist system during a time of significant friction between the State of Wyoming and Teton County/Town of Jackson.
County Commissioner Natalia Macker
WY Representative Mike Yin
THUR, OCT 19
Podcasts: Baby’s First Market Failure by Sarah Gonzalez, Jeff Guo, Keith Romer, & Sam Yellowhorse Kesler (NPR Planet Money, February 3, 2023)
The New Biden Plan that Could Erase your Student Loans by Corey Turner, Kenny Malone, Molly Messick, Emma Peaslee (NPR Planet Money, August 11, 2023)
The cost of childcare and student loans weigh on many folks in 2023. These two podcasts highlight each, and will hopefully spur discussion on ways we can address childcare and higher ed.
County Commissioner Mark Newcomb
WED, OCT 25
Article: Commercial and Residential Employee Generation and Affordable Housing Nexus Survey (Prepared for Town of Jackson & Teton County, by Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. June 26, 2023)
Wyoming’s low-tax environment and the attractiveness of Jackson and Teton County has generated extremely strong demand for real estate, resulting in high prices in every sector, while wages remain well below levels that would give local workers the means to compete with high net worth individuals from outside Teton County for housing. For decades local workers have been increasingly forced to live in satellite communities, commuting over Teton Pass, or through Snake River or Hoback Canyon, highways prone to closure during periods of extreme winter weather and creating a de facto labor shortage that can be acute during winter storms. Businesses have started and grown, creating more new jobs, as they respond to market opportunities generated from the growing population of high net worth households and increasing levels of visitation. Zoning amendments to increase density has incentivized private developers to build housing, but it’s not enough, and rents remain high. Local service industry workers struggle to live here. More importantly, workers in critical public service roles, be that public safety, public health or education, struggle to live here. Creating threats to residents health and welfare via lower levels of service. Whose responsibility is it to fund and build workforce housing (housing that is not profitable for private developers to build)? Entirely the private sector’s? Entirely the public sectors? Should developers of new large, labor intensive homes and new, labor intensive brick and mortar businesses (offices, short-term rentals, etc) bear any of the cost of developing housing for workers generated by new development?
Answering these policy questions requires data on how many new jobs (and resulting demand for new homes) are generated by new development. This paper builds an analytical framework to provide data on job generation by development type. Policy makers will use this data to answer policy questions around how to meet the demand for new workforce housing this fall.
Teton County Commissioner Luther Propst
THUR, OCT 26
Article: How our Roads Hurt Us and Everything Around Us by Emily Raboteau (New York Times, September 10, 2023)
Article: It’s Only Community If Everyone Has a Place by Antonia Malchik (On The Commons, September 6, 2023)
My thesis is that Jackson Hole has a limited supply of land available for development and a nearly unlimited national or global demand for tourism and housing. This means that new housing is either deed restricted for the workforce or goes largely (almost entirely) for wealthy retirees, highly paid remote workers, or second/third homes. (Employer provided housing is another issue). This leaves little opportunity to local workers to live in Jackson, but instead commute from not only Victor, Driggs, and Alpine, but increasingly Rexburg, Bondurant, Pinedale, and Idaho Falls. It also means that we have ever-growing pressure for creating new jobs – with new hotels and mansions laying the foundation for job creation and ever more and longer commutes, largely in single occupancy vehicles. The topic for discussion is whether and when we should start discussing limits to job growth in this isolated valley and start discussing both supply and demand for workforce housing, with the goal of creating a balanced community.
Town Councilor Jonathan Schechter
THUR, NOV 9
Article: This Element is Critical to Human Flourishing--Yet Missing From the News by Amanda Ripley (Washington Post, March 30, 2023)
Article: Progressive Gloom Ignores a Marvelous Historic Economic Measure by George Will (Washington Post, July 19, 2023)