Bozeman city leaders are preparing for the 2023 legislative session, defining what the city's priorities will be in the year to come.
One of those priorities is more local control, where the city hopes to make more money off of the revenue from tourists coming to the area.
“So it makes sense for Montana as a priority that we're pushing that would allow residents here to vote on opportunity to have a local option sales tax,” says Bozeman’s Economic Development Program Manager Mike Veselik.
The city says 1.9 million passengers came through Bozeman-Yellowstone in 2021, many of them who come to vacation and spend money in the area which is why the city wants to capitalize on the money generated by tourism.
“We would utilize that revenue generated from that tax to offset property taxes for our residents and invest in infrastructure. And other things that we need in our community,” says Veselik.
Making money isn’t the only issue the city is pushing for. It is looking to regain some of the local powers which some commissioners say were taken away in the last session.
“The state chose to put six more items on the list of powers denied to self-governing local governments like the city of Bozeman. We want flexibility there. We want to be able to govern people,” says Veselik.
Workforce housing and clean energy top out the other two priorities for the city.
“The main thing we see missing in that is resources to support affordable housing. There are three L's driving the cost of housing: labor, lumber and land,” says Veselik.
The city is also pushing for clean energy; it looks to get help from Helena to expand incentives for businesses and homeowners to use clean energy.
“An inability to offer incentives for people to put wind or solar or other power on smaller properties,” says Veselik.
Other things the city leaders support range from inclusivity to public safety, although it’s the four—clean energy, a local option sales tax, local control, and workforce housing—that round out the main focus.
“That will be where our focus and our energy is really focused towards,” says Veselik.