Sales Tax Solution for Sustainable Growth

Kalispell residents shoulder a heavy burden in property taxes

By Daryl Garber

I read the Beacon’s article discussing the city council’s push for a local sales tax, and I support this as a solution for sustainable growth in our local economy.

Kalispell supports a much larger population than just those of us within city limits, serving not only the many people in surrounding regions who rely on Kalispell for essential goods and services, but also the massive influx of tourists we see in the summer months. They all bring important contributions to our economy, but also burden city infrastructure without directly supporting its maintenance.

It’s important that we establish tax revenues that are fair and affordable for everyone involved. For example, a 2.5 percent tax would be affordable and should come with corresponding tax breaks for Kalispell residents who already shoulder a heavy burden in property taxes for our growing city, a burden that is only going to increase with the recent vote for $54 million in school bonds to pay for education investments.

Putting the cost in perspective, a $50 purchase would be $51.25, while a tourist paying $600 for lodging would see his bill increase to $615, a tax penalty that is only a fraction of the 5-8 percent most of our visitors typically pay in their home states.

Many of us are understandably frustrated with the tsunami of taxes we have to pay every year, but this is a tax we should support as a community. We need an efficiently run local government that has access to the funds it needs for essential projects that will ensure our community continues to grow and thrive. This tax would establish a vital revenue stream in a way that is equitable, affordable, and sustainable over time, directly tying city revenues to economic growth. Let’s ask our representatives in Helena for the chance to support this investment in the future of Kalispell and the Flathead Valley.

Daryl Garber

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