Seeing is Believing
There are numerous examples across the US of local option transforming communities large and small. Whether you’re in a small rural community or a larger urban city, the autonomy of local option authority allows your town to be proactive in its own development and problem solving. Although communities across the country differ in the projects they choose to develop, their tax rate, and the duration of their taxes, one thing seems to be apparent across the board: once the voters decide they want to use local option, they see its transformative power and continue to use it to grow their communities.
Local Option All Around
Our neighbors all have the authority to enact a local option and they do. The small town of Salmon, ID, with a population of around 3,300, used local option proceeds to modernize and improve their community pool. A slightly larger community, Dickinson, ND, population 23,000, constructed a community center that includes indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities, fitness areas, racquetball courts, gymnasiums, and more. And Cheyenne, WY, population 62,000, used their local option revenue to improve transportation with $18 million of road construction.
Rapid City’s Vision Fund
Since it was first used in 1977, a half-cent sales tax in Rapid City, SD, called the Vision Fund, has been used to pay for numerous economic development and infrastructure projects. Please check out a couple of these examples:
- Barnett Arena at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center
- Community Pool at Roosevelt Park
- Rebuilding the Canyon Lake Dam
OKC’s MAPS Program
The first metropolitan area projects (MAPS) initiative was passed in 1993 as a five-year, one-cent sales tax. The revenue collected in just five years enabled OKC to fund NINE projects in their city. A few of these are listed below:
- Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
- Cox Convention Center
- State Fairgrounds Improvements
- Civic Center Music Hall
- Oklahoma River Upgrades
Similar Success with Montana Resort Tax
Smaller communities in Montana have already taken advantage of a similar local option sales tax, called the Resort Tax. Big Sky, Whitefish, and Red Lodge are a few Montana towns that have improved their communities through the use of this limited sales tax. In order to enact a Resort Tax a city must be designated a resort community/area, meaning it has a population of less than 5,500 (or less than 2,500 for unincorporated resort areas) and obtains a major share of its economic well-being from non-business travelers. Although the Resort Tax is very limited in its use by a tiny fraction of Montana communities, the benefits of community improvement are apparent everywhere the tax is utilized. In fact, communities that reauthorize the Resort Tax have overwhelming support because citizens have seen the transformative effects of this limited tax.