Source: Yellowstone Public Radio January 30, 2017
Photo Credit: Jackie Yamanaka
State Senator Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, had a local option sales tax bill drafted, even though past Legislatures have rejected such proposals.
Phillips said what makes this proposal different is it would be temporary. The tax, to be enacted by local voters, would be in effect only long enough to pay for what he calls “critical” public works or infrastructure project and a minimum of 10% of the revenue raised would have to go to homeowners in the form of property tax relief.
“Here’s an approach that’s independent of Helena, that has a decided beginning, middle, and an end to address critical needs, property tax relief, infrastructure, maintenance and establishment,” he said.
Phillips said the problem with the current process to fund infrastructure projects is everyone has to come to Helena and plead with legislators to fund their water, sewer, or building projects. In recent sessions, lawmakers have failed to pass a major infrastructure bill because of disputes over which projects should get funding and over how to pay for them, use cash on hand or borrow by issuing bonds.
Phillips predicted while some will object to funding infrastructure projects with what in essence is a new tax – a limited sales tax – he argued this is really a matter of local control.