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Resort Tax

January 11th, 2024

9:00 am Philipsburg Town Hall


Council in Attendance: John Laigaie, Jason White, Lorraine Dell-Bishop, Carl Sundstrom, and Scott Lyons. Council Absent: Mayor Daniel Reddish and Gary Fujinami. Others in Attendance: Clerk Rachel Parret, Special Projects Maureen Connor, Shirely Beck, Dale Siegford, Cathy Smith, Emily Petrovski, Josh Margolis, and Tom Rue.


Call to Order: Councilman Lyons called the meeting to order at 9:08 am.


Resort Tax Working Meeting:

The Town Council started the meeting by examining the Columbia Falls, MT Ordinance #803.

Ordinance 3.20.210 Resort Tax Imposed

A. 1.) Hotels and lodging would fall under the Resort Tax. Lodging bed tax is 8%, Resort Tax 3% + 1% Resort Tax infrastructure.  The Lodging taxes would be 11%-12%.

Councilman Sundstrom asked about the RV parks being taxed under the lodging.  This will be looked at further per Montana code.

A. 2.) Restaurants would be taxed. Grocery store non prepared food would not be taxed. Prepared food (bakery/deli) would be taxed.

Councilman Sundstrom asked if the Senior Center food would be taxed. This will be looked at further per Montana code.

A.3.) Taverns and bars. Alcoholic drinks per serving would be taxed.  Alcoholic drinks served by the bottle, 4 pack, and case will be looked at further per Montana code.

A.4.) Ski resort will not be included (not in Town limits). Other recreational facilities such as sapphire mining would be taxed.

B.1.) Resort Tax rate 3% +1% infrastructure. The list of communities who have adopted the Resort Tax has also implemented the extra 1% infrastructure.

B.2.) Duration of tax. Columbia Falls implemented 20 years.

Councilman Laigaie asked if the Town can modify the length of time. Councilman Sundstrom said that Montana doesn’t specify the length of time. Councilman Lyons said that the Town can implement for a shorter period and the place it back on the ballot. The Council will implement the verbiage to be placed on the ballot.

C.) Duty to Collect. The business owners will be responsible for making the Resort Tax payments.

Ordinance 3.20.310 Luxury Tax

Luxuries – any gift items, luxury items other item normally sold to the public or to transient visitors or tourist; but does not include unprepared food or unserved food, medicine, medical supplies and services, appliances, hardware supplies and tools or any necessities of life.

Event Centers would be taxed. Nonprofits such as the Library, Senior Center, and Museum will be looked further at per Montana code.

Lodging – all goods and services provided. Long term versus short term rentals will be looked at further per Montana code.

Concerts would be taxed. Nonprofit concerts will be looked at further per Montana code.

Golf Courses would be taxed.

The theater would be taxed. Nonprofit theater will be looked at further per Montana code.

Emily Petrovski asked if gym memberships would be taxed. This will be looked at further per Montana code.

Cathy Smith asked if storage units would be taxed. This will be looked at further per Montana code and annex.

Retail sales would be taxed. The H&R Thrift Store is a nonprofit organization which will be looked at further per Montana code.

Goods sold online would be taxed.

Councilman Sundstrom said that Columbia Falls put everything down that could be thought of to be taxed for 20 years.  The Council need to go through what goods the Town has and examine what can and cannot be taxed. The public needs to be educated on the pros and cons of the Resort Tax. 


Last 15 minutes for public comment.

Maureen Connor (grant writer and special projects) explained that Columbia Falls wishes that they would have done what Red Lodge did for their Resort Tax and just follow the State guidelines.


Questions to be further looked at:

  1. Nonprofit vs. profit

  2. Short term rentals vs. long term rentals

  3. Business operation time- length of time for Tax

  4. Definition on luxury items per MCA


Shirley Beck would like the gym memberships to look further into health vs. recreation.  Find out the real cost for the Town’s administration to implement the Tax. If this tax doesn’t pass there are several businesses in Town that will donate $10K to start a fund for infrastructure, to leave the Tax alone.


Councilman Lyons stressed that every time the DEQ requires something the cost of living in the Town goes up.


Cathy Smith said that business in Town has decreased, and it is hard to be a business owner in Philipsburg.


Maureen Connor said that UM Travel collected data that was very conservative, and it estimated that a Resort Tax would bring in about $200k. This would be a enough money to match a MCEP grant.


Cathy Smith said that locals have been saying that they do not have to pay the Resort Tax. Maureen Connor stated that the locals do have to pay the Resort Tax. Councilman Lyons said to debunk that rumor and encourage locals to come to the meetings. 


Councilwomen Dell-Bishop thanked the business owners for attending the meeting.  Councilman Lyons thanked the business owners.  He said that the Council takes their jobs seriously and want public comments to help the Council make the best decisions possible for the Town.


Next Meeting:

General Meeting January 16th, 2024, at 6:00 pm

Meeting with Chamber January 16th, 2024, at 8:00 am

Resort Tax Working Meeting January 18th, 2024, at 9:00 am



Councilman Sundstrom made a motion to adjourn the meeting, Councilwoman Dell-Bishop seconded the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

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