Resort tax board trims requests, funds affordable housing project

By Tyler Allen EBS Senior Editor

BIG SKY – The Big Sky Resort Area District tax board on June 20 nipped and tucked applications for fiscal year 2016-2017 to appropriate over $6 million to area nonprofits and organizations.

The board finished the evening appropriating more than $800,000 to its sinking fund, which held $1.3 million last fiscal year.

The meeting in Warren Miller Performing Arts Center began with young representatives of Big Sky’s Girl Scouts troop thanking the resort tax board members for their work in the community and handed each a box of cookies.

The public comment period continued with a number of community members stepping to the podium and stating their support for various groups and projects.

David O’Connor, chair of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce board of directors, addressed “the marching orders” given by the board in its June 6 applicant Q-and-A, for groups to refine applications due to constrained funds this year. O’Connor said the $250,000 requested for the chamber’s gateway monument project could be considered first as a reduction in order to emphasize the organization’s support for affordable housing, transportation and tourism projects.

Big Sky Fire Department Chief William Farhat said $64,000 earmarked for a new command vehicle could be delayed, and reduced from the department’s $722,850 request.

A number of community members voiced their support for the Big Sky Community Housing Trust’s $1.2 million request, with BSSD superintendent Dustin Shipman saying the school district recently lost candidates for open teaching positions due to a lack of workforce housing.

Later in the evening resort tax board member Ginna Hermann proposed the board fund the housing trust $1.05 million with seven conditions placed on the appropriation before releasing the funds.

After lengthy questioning of HRDC Community Development Manager Brian Guyer and discussion of the conditions—including a guarantee the donated parcel of land will be used for affordable housing and pending final plat approval—the board voted 4-0 to approve the application. Board member Kevin Germain abstained as an employee of Lone Mountain Land Company, the developer of the proposed project.

See a breakdown of 2017 resort tax appropriations below: