Chair Parks called the meeting to order at 7:01 PM. All members were present, including the Administrative Manager; members of the public present included, but are not limited to, Josh Wells, Tom Stone, Bob Kopeland, Tom Rapp, Doug MacCartney, Nancy Parks and Shirl Ireland. Chair Parks explained to the public that the Board is currently down a position and would welcome any interest from community members.
Chair Parks welcomed everyone to the meeting, the purpose of which is to explain the proposed upcoming mail-in election regarding the additional 1% resort tax authorized by the passing of Montana Senate Bill #241 and the requests from the Gardiner Water and Sewer District and the Gateway Hose Company to be considered for this 1% appropriation.
Josh Wells, of the Gardiner Water District, explained the critical need to upgrade and replace the water treatment plant; this project is estimated at a cost of $3.5 million. They have received $1 million from the National Park Service as a settlement over the sludge with arsenic and are anticipating rate increases also. This 1% appropriation would allow them to obtain financing to complete this project as well as cover an anticipated third of the project costs. Bob Kopeland, of the Gateway Hose Project, explained the critical need to replace their 1972 engine and possibly the 1991 engine also. Costs for these are at least $425,000 each. Gardiner has grown and developed over the years. The recent local fire has pointed out the increased needs of our community.
Chair Parks explained that the collection of the additional 1% for either of these projects would allow the district to use the other appropriation money for other projects; water district rates should also be a consideration. Chair Parks went over the draft resolution and ballot measure (copies of which were available for the public). The Board’s September meeting will be the second public meeting for this resolution. If the Board passes the resolution, two public notices will be posted of the upcoming election, which will probably occur in December by mail-in ballot.
A question/answer session was held with the members of the public who were present. Concerns were raised with the proposed additional 1% tax on top of the 3% resort tax and 8% lodging tax making it undesirable to stay in Gardiner rather than surrounding areas. Mr. Tom Rapp suggested extending the resort tax season, for example to April- October to spread out the tax cost to all tourists not just during the months of June – September. The Board explained the process for changing the tax season and/or expanding the area of the district.
The next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 7:00 PM at the Gardiner Visitor Center. The meeting adjourned at 7:59 PM