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Big Sky considers resort tax increase for affordable housing

Big Sky considers resort tax increase

BOZEMAN, Mont. - A city known for its high-end ski resort says it needs more affordable housing. The community of Big Sky is a booming town with construction happening all around.

Daniel Patton has worked there for years and is observing the change.

"A lot of stuff has been built, and definitely more people are coming but it's people that are coming to vacation that have multiple houses," he said.

The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce says one of their biggest issues is affordable housing. The chamber says homes that are being built now are expensive houses and condos.

According to their studies about 80 percent of Big Sky's workforce leaves town because they can't pay to live in the area.

"Middle management and the young professionals in our community are really getting squeezed out, so this is a focus for us," said Brittany Ide, the interim CEO for the chamber.

The solution could cost visitors, whether they are staying there or just going up for a day trip.

Ide says she hopes an increase in Big Sky's resort tax will help. A bill planned for this year's legislature would increase the tax from 3 percent to 4 percent.

Currently the 3-percent tax generates about $4.5 million a year for the town. In 2016 the Resort Tax Board voted allocate $1 million of that to affordable housing.

Some money from the proposed increase would be used to build workforce housing.

"We're not ready to vote for a tax; we just want to have the ability to look at that as an option," said Ide.

Not everyone agrees that there's a need for more affordable housing.

"I don't think there's a need for it, because this is a vacation community and resort. I feel that the people that come here and spend a lot of money kind of want to keep it that way," said Patton.

Ide says it's important to house people who provide services and who want to live near their jobs.

There is no word yet on when the legislation will be introduced. If it the legislature approves it the tax increase still has to be approved by Big Sky residents. Ide says the process to put it on a ballot could take up to a year.


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