Conservative optimism

Resort Tax projections look promising

COVID-19 has caused organizations to sift through budgets with prudence. Big Sky Resort Area District (Resort Tax) has asked for that kind of budgetary scrutiny from its applicants. The organization is holding itself equally as accountable. “We promised we would evaluate our own budget and take a look at collections each month to make sure they are accurate but still as conservative as possible,” Resort Tax Executive Director Daniel Bierschwale said during the August meeting. “Knowing that May came in as high as it did – 28% above 2019 and June came in at 1% above 2019, we have made a conservative adjustment to say that we will be at 80% of 2019 collections through the remainder of the summer.” July numbers will be telling: Airbnb and VRBO, together cornering around 90% of the short-term rental market in Big Sky, will have been 100% compliant. That result was thanks to a major push by Resort Tax staff to bring the businesses into tax compliance. It will also be the first month for the voter-approved 1% for infrastructure tax.

“Judging from the amount of traffic and how busy [it] seems, I think we are going to be in a fairly good position moving into the rest of the year,” Bierschwale said.

In addition to scenario planning and crunching numbers, he will also be working with the Big Sky Chamber, making use of forecasting and preliminary numbers from lodging and airline data. This will provide an assessment of summer and projection for winter that will be shared with the board prior to the November session.

FY21 Fall Application Review will consist of two meetings instead of three: Nov. 10 and 12. The first meeting will combine the Q and A with preliminary recommendations. Those recommendations will be finalized on Nov. 12. “It seems efficient,” Resort Tax Chairman Kevin Germain said.

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