Leaders from resort communities around Montana were in the state capital asking lawmakers to give them an additional tool to meet their infrastructure needs in the form of 1% increase on the state’s resort tax.
KTVQ reports the existing resort tax is 3% on things like hotels, restaurants, bars, ski resorts and gift items. The money generated goes toward a variety of uses, including property tax relief, emergency services and infrastructure improvements.
“SB 241 would allow voters in resort communities to approve up to an additional 1 percent tax that would be used exclusively for infrastructure. Leaders would have to specifically identify the projects the money will be used for.
Community leaders say, in most cases, they would use the additional tax to help pay for large, expensive projects, like water and sewer upgrades. Several told the committee they have put off needed improvements because they didn’t have enough revenue available.”
Ski resort communities like Big Sky would stand to benefit from the proposed tax hike. Steve Johnson, a member of the Big Sky Resort Area District Board, said his community wants to improve its wastewater treatment system at a price of at least $24 million and the tax funds would help the effort.
To qualify as a “resort community,” an incorporated city or town must have a population of less than 5,500 and get the majority of its economy from tourism. An unincorporated area can potentially qualify as a “resort area” if its economy relies on tourism and has fewer than 2,500 residents. The Montana Department of Commerce must approve a community’s request to be classified as a resort. The 10 communities that currently have resort taxes are Big Sky, Cooke City, Craig, Gardiner, Red Lodge, St. Regis, Virginia City, West Yellowstone, Whitefish and Wolf Creek.