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Columbia Falls leaders debate tax options

Posted at 6:03 PM, May 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-19 20:05:09-04

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.