Resort Tax FY21 Spring funding cycle

BOARD, STAFF AND APPLICANTS ADAPT TO COVID-NECESSARY CHANGES
“It was a lot of work for everyone, and the community came into this thing all together,” Resort Tax Executive Director Daniel Bierschwale said. “I thought the end result was in the best interest of the community and we have started a more long term discussion of implementing the BSRAD strategic plan including supporting matching funds and working with organizations to develop and encourage those opportunities.”

Over 10 hours of deliberations over the course of three days allowed Big Sky Resort Area District (Resort Tax) to distribute $2,513,372 with its FY21 Spring funding cycle.

Resort Tax Executive Director Daniel Bierschwale said the process went smoothly even with COVID–19 best practices in play.

Applicants came in via Zoom as the shift to twice-yearly appropriations demanded incredible effort from applicants, staff and board members, he noted.

Board chair Kevin Germain pointed out that he was initially hesitant because adding an additional appropriations meeting to the year meant added pressure to all involved.

“However, I don't see a choice. There were no other options given the circumstances. It was just the right decision to be good stewards of our tax dollars and to make sure we are able to adapt with the changes to COVID and our economy,” he said.

In keeping with findings from the subcommittee charged with scenario planning, the shift from annual to six-month appropriation cycles is meant to address the many economic uncertainties created by COVID-19.

Further, Resort Tax is asking area organizations to explore other funding options that might be available to them. Having funding tied to a sales tax during an unprecedented time in history – and with so much uncertainty – may not be their best option. So, Resort Tax is working with those organizations to explore other funding sources.

The process itself saw a shift this year, what in previous years had been done in two meetings is now done in three meetings.

Before, the board had one day of question and answer (Q and A) with applicants and the second day required the final decisions. This year saw Q and A the first day, individual application discussion during the second meeting and final decisions during the third meeting.

Board chair Kevin Germain said the shift from two meetings to three was beneficial.

“I just think that having that one extra meeting where we could think about things for a few days made for a more rational decision making process,” he said.

One of the messages of the board was that Resort Tax needs to do a better job of encouraging matching funds, and working with Madison and Gallatin counties to plan an appropriate level of joint funding for things like the sheriff ’s office, search and rescue and the transportation district.

Many initiatives were funded, some partially funded and some deferred to the fall appropriations cycle.

“We will also be continuing to collaborate with our philanthropic communities here, making sure we are supporting each other and being strategic,” he said.

Many applicants were thoughtful in shrinking down requests from last year.

“It was a lot of work for everyone, and the community came into this thing all together,” Bierschwale said. “I thought the end result was in the best interest of the community and we have started a more long term discussion of implementing the BSRAD strategic plan including supporting matching funds and working with organizations to develop and encourage those opportunities.”

The Resort Tax strategic plan also emphasizes learning and adapting, with that in mind, there are surveys available for the community, the board and staff and for applicants “to figure out how we can best meet the needs of the community and adapt the process to be as effective as possible in the fall and moving forward.”

More information about the FY 21 Spring funding cycle can be found at resorttax.org/ funding/

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