Chair Parks called the meeting to order at 7:01 PM. All members were present, including the Administrative Manager; members of the public present (but not limited to) included Jolyn Music, Tarah Deshler, Jill McAllister, Tom Rapp, Gina Knight, Donald Knight and Bob Fuhrmann.
Administrative Manager Bush presented the August 4th and August 25th meeting minutes. Vice-Chair Dalling moved to approve the August minutes from both meetings. Secretary/Treasurer Stone seconded the motion. No discussion was needed; all voted in favor; none opposed. Motion passed. Administrative Manager Bush presented the current expenses and financial reports for the month. Secretary/Treasurer Stone moved to approve the current expenses and financial reports. Director Gerdes seconded the motion. No discussion was needed; all voted in favor; none opposed. Motion passed.
In Old Business, Chair Parks reviewed with the Board the draft resolution and ballot language concerning the Additional 1% resort tax. Changes from the District’s attorney included language for a mail-in ballot, rather than the November election. The project identified is the Gardiner Water & Sewer Districts replacement of the sewage treatment plant. Chair Parks opened the floor up for public comment on this issue.
Three motel owners expressed their concern that an additional 1% added to the existing 3% Resort Tax, plus the now 8% state tax, would hurt their businesses. Board members responded that the higher nightly rates are likely the cause for losing any business if so and an owner of 2 large motels in town agreed.
Motel owners asked if the Board would consider extending the tax season to raise more funds instead ofraising the resort tax rate. Secretary/Treasurer Stone responded that the Board had recently considered that and contacted the MT Department of Revenue for the Gardiner gross lodging revenues for April, May and October from 2019. The potential Resort Tax collected from these 3 extra months, that infrastructure would be eligible for (50%), would bring in far less compared to what an additional 1% fully committed to infrastructure would bring June – September. One motel owner expressed a desire to see Gardiner go back to fundraising instead of having the Resort Tax. An additional suggestion was made to consider raising the administrative fee that is returned to the businesses for their administration of the tax. One motel owner suggested making the resort tax year-round, but only applicable to lodging. Josh Wells, Manager of the Gardiner Park County Water Sewer District, once again explained a planned multi-faceted approach to fund the proposed sewage treatment facility upgrade to be in state compliance. The NPS will pay a large amount towards it, state and federal funds are being pursued, the additional 1% Resort Tax is being pursued and the monthly rates of those in the water/sewer district will likely be increased. The water/sewer rate increase will no doubt be less if the 1% additional Resort Tax is passed by the community. Chair Parks estimated this amount of the 1% additional Resort Tax as being just under $200,000 in a year like 2019. In short, Wells said that the passing of this resolution would keep the water/sewer rate increase down. One motel owner expressed his opinion of the misuse of the Water/Sewer District money being wasted on litigation and then having to come to the Resort Tax Board for more money to fund projects. The Resort Tax Board and Administrative Manager assured the attendees that the Resort District is audited annually and that it directly pays only approved invoices for approved projects and that each group requesting funds has to lay out their budgets and funding sources. No litigation costs have been requested or approved from any group. Following all public comments, Chair Parks directed the conversation back to the Board. Vice-Chair Dalling moved to approve the 1% resolution and subsequent ballot language. Director Gerdes seconded the motion. No further discussion was needed; all voted in favor; none opposed. Motion passed. In other Old Business, there were no updates on the website hosting project. Regarding the vacancy on the Board, Bob Fuhrmann, present at this meeting has indicated an interest in serving. Secretary/Treasurer Stone moved to appoint Bob Fuhrmann to fill the vacant position until completion of Aimee Dawson’s term. Vice-Chair Dalling seconded the motion. No discussion was needed; all voted in favor; none opposed. Motion passed. Finally, in Old Business, Administrative Manager Bush updated the Board that collections are going well for 2020 and all accounts have been settled for 2019.
In New Business, Administrative Manager Bush reminded the Board that the Appropriation cycle is upcoming. The Board discussed advertising and the possibility of needing a different space for the November meeting due to the COVID situation. Jolyn Music, of the Super 8 Motel in Gardiner graciously offered the use of their breakfast room for that meeting; Administrative Manager Bush will follow up with her if necessary.
Upcoming meeting dates were determined and are as follows: October 13th, November 10th and December 8th. The next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM at the Gardiner Visitor Center. Vice-Chair Dalling moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:08 PM. Secretary/Treasurer Stone seconded the motion. No discussion was needed; all voted in favor; none opposed. Motion passed.