Columbia Falls leaders debate tax options

Posted at 2:33 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 17:50:52-04

COLUMBIA FALLS – Columbia Falls is faced with a big decision — does the city increase taxes or approve a resort tax?

City Manager Susan Nicosia told MTN News that the city struggles with some basic necessities including a shortage of volunteer firefighters, bad signage and poor roads.

The city has two options to fix these issues — raise taxes or move forward with a resort community designation.  The town recently met criteria for a resort community thanks to a bill passed by legislators in Helena.

Columbia Falls
The city can either raise taxes or move forward with a resort community designation. (MTN News photo)

“The population is less than 5,500 as determined in a census,” Nicosia explained. That you have an economic impact that is tourist related not just sales or income generation from traditional or non-tourist jobs.”

Nicosia explained that while Columbia Falls doesn’t appear to be a resort town, it’s proximity to Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forrest make it appealing.

A citizen vote is needed to move forward with either a tax raise or resort tax.

Nicosia says the taxable amount can be flexible depending on how citizens vote and says that no voting would take place for another year.

Reporting by Maren Siu for MTN News