Source: Billings Gazette Letter to the Editor March 20, 2017
Image Credit: Billings Gazette
Jeff Walters

I strongly encourage anyone interested in developing a viable and competitive economic future for our region to contact their area legislator and demand their support of House Bill 577 and Senate Bill 331. These critical bills authorize cities across Montana to propose local option infrastructure tax authority to their local voters. To be clear, these bills do not implement any new tax. They will simply authorize communities across Montana to vote for themselves on local option authority.

Whether you are in favor of a local option tax or not, it’s imperative that communities be given the authority to choose for themselves. Statewide, our counties, cities and towns are faced with over $27 billion in critical infrastructure needs. Session after session, the legislature gets locked into debates that ultimately fail to meet these real needs of communities. Critical issues like water treatment and other infrastructure needs go unmet, while millions of untapped dollars’ drive by our communities every day. Property taxes continue to grow with no other available means to generate meaningful community revenue.

We’ll have plenty of time later to debate whether our community wants a local option tax in Billings. As it stands today, we can’t even ask the question. Neither can anyone else in the state. Please contact your legislator and tell them to support HB577 and SB331, and enable communities to decide for themselves.

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