Measure heads to public vote; without increased sales tax, project will be disbanded
By BRYCE MARTIN | Pioneer Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
A Bowman city commissioner made it clear Tuesday that he is opposed to raising the city sales tax to help fund the new recreation center.
At the July 15 Bowman City Board of Commissioners regular meeting, Commissioner Chuck Whitney voted against giving the board’s “blessing” to put on the November ballot a measure to raise the city sales tax for the new recreation center project.
Friends of the Bowman Parks and Recreation Department, a group created to assist with the creation of the center, and Bowman Parks and Recreation Director Chanell Walby presented the commissioners with a draft of the proposed ballot issue that called for a one percent increase to the city’s existing six percent sales tax.
The department would allocate the collected funds from the tax to help with construction and expansion of the new center and its operating costs.
Without the increased sales tax, the project would be disbanded.
“Did you not have this exact same question about two months ago?” Whitney asked Walby. “I’m pretty sure we not only discussed it but we voted it down at that point.”
Commission President Lyn James and Bowman City Auditor Peggy Matheson shook their head with confusion and noted that the request for the board’s “blessing” was never discussed prior to the meeting.
In previous months, the city did agree to earmark $500,000 for the project, paying out $50,000 annually over the next decade.
While Whitney continued to voice his dissent on the issue, James said utilizing the city sales tax for the project would be a good way to raise the funds. Bowman’s business relies on diverse patrons, as James explained, that come from around the state and beyond.
After examining one-tenth of her customer base that utilizes charge accounts at her business, Flowers & Cappuccino by Lasting Visions, James discovered that nearly two-thirds came from outside the city of Bowman.
“That is probably a real nice way to support something that would be used by, not only Bowman residents, but the greater Bowman area as well as passers-through,” James said.
Whitney did not agree. He explained that if the city sales tax were increased, it would deter people from doing business within the city.
“… There gets to be some resistance,” he said. He noted that his business, Tri State Chiropractic, does not require sales tax so the issue wouldn’t affect him anyway.
He explained to Walby that they would collect less if the sales tax were increased, which led James to question how Whitney arrived at that conclusion.
“From past experience; not living in a dream world,” he answered.
Ultimately, Whitney said that if the tax were raised, customers would not want to spend their money in the city and pay higher tax. Most of the board, including James, disagreed.
Despite Whitney’s objection, the motion passed in a 3-1 vote and the issue will be up for city voters to decide in November’s general election.