Kalispell lobbies lawmakers for local sales tax


KALISPELL, Mont. - Officials are lobbying for a local sales tax option in Kalispell. Those efforts follow HB 577, which would allow local governments to enact a 4 percent sales tax with voter approval.

We spoke with Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell Wednesday. He says the tax could generate about $6.5 million a year for the city.

Those dollars would go toward infrastructure projects and property tax relief.

Russell emphasized that even if the bill clears the legislature residents of Kalispell would have the final say.

"The bill that is being considered for would give the voters the opportunity to vote for it," Russell said. "The voters would decide whether or not and what those uses would be for."

With tourism one of Kalispell's largest industries, Russell says it's time they exploit those visitors at the benefit of property owners.

According to the bill, at least 25 percent of the uses have to go toward property tax relief.

Resident Sandy Stokes says she needs the tax help.

"Since I've been living on my property they've went up from $100-and-something to about $1,300 for the same property," Stokes said. "And that's been 20 years now."

However, there are concerns. Residents we talked to say it could deter residents from shopping at local shops and restaurants.

Here are some of the communities and resort areas that are currently using a sales tax:

Whitefish Red Lodge Virginia City West Yellowstone Saint Regis Big Sky Cooke City

Under current Montana law, in order to implement a sales tax a city must meet "certain population and economic requirements."