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Kalispell council gears up for legislative session

November 12, 2018

If each legislative session in Helena were akin to a three-month football game, then the players and spectators alike would be thinking now about lively offensive strategies and formidable defenses.

The Montana Legislature’s 2019 session launches Jan. 7. And members of the Kalispell City Council want to nail down the city’s legislative priorities in the weeks ahead. The priorities will guide conversations with regional legislators before and during the 2019 gathering in Helena.

The ideal legislative session would yield for Kalispell at least a few wins and no losses.

At a work session on Tuesday, the council will review priorities proposed for the last legislative session, with some minor revisions, to examine their utility for the months ahead.

For example, a priority could be supporting legislation that would allow local communities to seek voter approval for a sales tax within municipal limits. The proceeds could help pay to maintain infrastructure and services for a city impacted by large numbers of people who don’t reside in Kalispell.

Separately, Kalispell, which continues to use money raised from tax-increment financing to pay for improvements in designated districts, could seek legislation supporting or expanding TIFs and oppose any laws that would limit their effectiveness.

Tax increment finance districts allow municipalities to capture additional taxes as a district increases in value. Property owners in the district do not shoulder related hikes in property taxes. TIFs hinge on blight that is said to limit new development in the district.

Council also will consider also a legislative priority that would support legislation to provide a mechanism to alleviate or lessen the economic impacts of any new regulatory standards on municipal operations, such as water production, wastewater treatment, solid waste and storm-water management.

There also could be support for legislation that would help Kalispell with local infrastructure costs associated with the city’s rapid growth.

In other discussion planned for tonight, members of city council will discuss:

• A request from Michael Anders, developer of the Trumbull Creek Crossing Subdivision, located northeast of the city limits and served by the Evergreen Sewer District, for sanitary sewer treatment service for the fourth phase of the subdivision.

• Proposed revisions to the city’s tree ordinance.

The council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 201 First Ave. E.

Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at dadams@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4407.

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