Resort tax will come with property tax rebate

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Nucleus Avenue at night.

City leaders continue to work on the finer details on a proposed resort tax, Mayor Don Barnhart told city council Monday night.

The city is moving forward with the tax as a way to pay for emergency services and capture tourists dollars during the summer months.

In addition to emergency services, the funds will also be used for parks and streets and a sizable chunk will be used as a property tax rebate. A committee that’s looking at the tax meets once a month and is considering proposing that at least 25 percent of the resort tax proceeds go toward a property tax rebate for home and landowners in the city.

The sales tax will, at the very least, tax lodging and restaurant food and meals. The committee is also looking at what other “luxury” items could see the tax.

The committee is basing the city’s resort tax on other cities in the state that have the tax, including Whitefish, Red Lodge and West Yellowstone.

In the past few years the city has seen a surge in tourism, as more than half of the people who travel to Glacier at least drive through the city and many of them stop and eat in restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries and breweries.

In addition, there’s been a surge in vacation rentals. Many of the new condos on Nucleus Avenue are vacation rentals.

The committee will meet one more time in December, then present its final findings to council in early January. From there, council could send it back to the committee or accept the committee’s recommendations. The final proposal will go to voters in the spring — most likely in May.

In other news:

• The city got some bad news from Sen. Steve Daines office. It was not awarded a federal Build grant. The city was hoping to use the funding to rebuild Fourth Avenue and 13th Street West in front of the high school.

• The city has upgraded its software for the public works department to Dude Solutions, which will allow the city to better track service calls and other daily duties. The software was not inexpensive — about $11,000. But it was far less than software other cities in the county are using. The city was still using paper records in some cases.

• The city’s tax increment financing district coffers are healthy. The TIF is now at $490,000, city manager Susan Nicosia told council. The council will look at potential projects early next year, but improving the lighting on Nucleus Avenue is one of the top proposals on the list.

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