Kalispell Makes Sales Tax Option A Priority In Time For Election - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Kalispell Makes Sales Tax Option A Priority In Time For Election

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WHITEFISH - The idea of more taxes sometimes scares people, but Kalispell city council put a local option sales tax on its list of legislative priorities.

They hope to sit down with representatives after November's general election to see if they might help shape the 2015 legislative session.

A sales tax can be many things. In Whitefish, the kind of sales tax the people have voted in mainly hits the tourist attractions like hotels, and the money is largely directed toward maintenance and upkeep projects. Since the state sees Whitefish as a small resort town, they're allowed to vote in this kind of tax themselves.

Kalispell is different.

"We're allowed to raise taxes to a certain extent by the legislature under law. We're not able to keep up with inflation, actually, so each year it becomes more and more difficult to meet the cost that it takes to provide these services," said Charles Harball, the Kalispell city attorney.

Kalispell isn't able to make up its own sales tax. That's a right left up to Montana, but city council wants to look into changing that. They want each community across Montana to have the option of voting in a sales tax without the state's permission.

How much, exactly what purchases are taxed, and how it will affect each person-- whether they live in the city, the county, or even the country-- is all still up in the air.

Since Kalispell has made it clear that this issue matters, Harball thinks it could have some sway in November.

"People can kind of make a determination," said Harball, "Does this candidate think like I do on this? It kind of helps people in their voting decision."

One of the co-owner of Beckman's furniture store, Karen Cramer, used to live in Arizona where the sales tax was pretty high.

"I think for our clients it's a really nice surprise for them that we don't have a sales tax, and it makes shopping a little bit more enjoyable," said Cramer.

She isn't sure if it would hurt business, but Cramer says she's definitely keeping her eye on the issue.

In the last fiscal year alone, Whitefish got more than $1.2 million out of their resort tax.

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