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Brad Harrington

The Sixth Penny Problem? That It's There To Be Taken

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Our backup editorial, published in the February 3, 2012 issue of Liberty's Torch.

The Sixth Penny Problem? That It's There To Be Taken

By Bradley Harrington

As could have been predicted ahead of time, yet another upcoming Sixth Penny ballot measure has introduced yet more controversy amongst the governing bodies in question as to how the plunder’s best to be divvied up and spent - and that’s a surprise? The tax, itself, guarantees that such controversies are bound to arise; it’s actually built right into the system, and little else should be expected but for such controversies to occur.

The City of Cheyenne, for instance, argues that - as the main population center of Laramie County and the source of most of the Sixth Penny revenue - it should get the lion’s share of the monies generated by the tax. With Laramie County as a whole at a population of 91,738 according to the 2010 Census, and Cheyenne accounting for 59,466 of those people by that same Census, that places Cheyenne’s share of Laramie County’s population at 64.8 percent, yet Cheyenne’s share of the Sixth Penny largess of $105 million only comes to $57 million, or 54.3 percent. Which means: Per head, Cheyenne residents receive disproportionately less on their return, while residents of the other, less-populated areas of Laramie County receive more.

Indeed, the exact amount for a Cheyenne resident’s return from the Sixth Penny tax comes to just $958.53 - whereas a resident of the town of Albin, for instance, with a population of only 120 but Sixth Penny tax receipts of $3.2 million instead, enjoys a return of $26,666.66, a ratio increase of 2,782 percent.

That hardly seems fair, and some people in both the past and the present have recommended that these ratios be rectified. But how? For, consider another fact as well: If some of that Sixth Penny tax money, regardless of where a Laramie County citizen lives, has been used to purchase “services” he might not have any use for - such as, say, a fairground or a rec center -that resident’s “return” on his “investment” is ZERO.

The biggest computer in the world couldn’t figure it out, no matter how big it got, because there’s simply no way to incorporate all the millions of factors and individual choices made by nearly 100,000 people into the equation. No, the only thing that could even come close to being “fair” would be to simply divide $105 million by 91,738 and hand each and every resident of Laramie County a check for $1,144.56, call it good, and let everybody spend their money as they see fit. Were we to do that, of course, then the next question would be: Why have the tax in the first place?


Bradley Harrington is the Publisher of Liberty's Torch; his email is

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