Whitefish voters are voting to decide if they want to extend an existing tax. The tax has been paying for improvements in the city, and people here like it. People who vote can decide if they want this extension or not.
The city has been able to rebuild miles of roads and replace the old water and sewer lines. They have improved parks, too. And some money goes to a conservation easement for the Haskill Basin, which protects their water supply.
People who own property in the city have saved money on taxes. There is a 23% reduction for people who own property in the city.
Nobody likes to pay taxes. Taxes can be hard, but a resort tax is fair. The idea is that people who come to Whitefish and use the city’s services should help pay for those services. And since Whitefish’s tax applies to restaurants and hotels and “luxury” goods, visitors are indeed contributing money into the resort tax coffers.
People who spent time in Whitefish this summer and into the fall easily saw many people in the city. There were lots of visitors, which made it hard to walk on the sidewalks or go shopping.
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Without the resort tax, the city will need to collect more money from people living in it. They will need to pay more taxes and assessments if they want to make up for the lost revenue received by visitors.
The bill states that the tax will last until 2045. In addition, it allocates much less money for streets, storm sewers, and sidewalks. The money for bike paths and parks has been increased to 10%. For a business-oriented city like Whitefish, this is a good thing. People can use the trail system to get around town more easily and quickly without dealing with traffic or parking.
Some other cities in the North Valley are also feeling the effects of increased tourism. There is now a 3% tax on things bought at businesses in Columbia Falls, which went into effect this month. The problem will continue to get worse if something isn’t done soon.
There will always be those who don’t want to raise taxes, but most people do not notice the small increase in their taxes. When you add up all of the resort tax revenue, it is much money for the government.