Bigfork Explores a Resort Tax

By Beacon Staff

They’re sifting through legalese, pouring over maps, and asking questions about resort taxes.
“We’re just going to lay it out so the community can make a decision,” says Bruce Solberg.

Solberg is part of the eight-person subcommittee put together at a Bigfork Steering Committee meeting. Their mission: gather as much information about a resort tax, put that information out to the public, and make a recommendation to the BSC whether it’s a good idea for Bigfork.

Then, the earliest it could go before the voters is next spring, during school elections.

“The control is completely in the hands of voters as to what the tax is and if the tax is,” Solberg explained. Voters would decide if to tax, how much, and what projects the money would finance.

Whitefish instituted a resort tax in 1995, and recently renewed it. In 2002, according to the Montana Department of Revenue, the city spent 25 percent of the money on property tax relief. Whitefish is designated a “resort community”. Montana law requires at least 5 percent of the revenue to go toward property tax relief.

In Bigfork, the subcommittee is still gathering information to determine, for one, whether Bigfork is a “resort community”, or a “resort area.” There is no specific property tax relief guideline for a “resort area.” “We’re just trying to get enough information in the hands of the right people to see if it would be worthwhile,” Solberg says.

The subcommittee wants to get local business people involved, since they’ll be the most directly effected. They hope to get a resort tax answer sheet up on the BSC website in the next couple weeks. The Bigfork Chamber of Commerce Web site, www.bigfork.org, has a link to the BSC site.

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