BOZEMAN- As new Mayor Chris Mehl ends his first week as mayor, we look to the future and what can the people of Bozeman expect over the next two years.
Mehl says one of the big things he’s working on is inter-government relationships.
“I’m having coffee once a month with the mayor of Belgrade... Belgrade is booming we are booming we can share and learn a lot from each other,” Mehl said.
He wants to make regional goals and projects with the county move smoother.
“Don who is the county commission chair and I are going to meet once a month with some staff to also talk about things,” Mehl said, “we need to get along.... getting along means we save money, we do things better we learn from each other.”
It's the mayor's job to set the agenda of the city council meetings, Mehl explains that as early as this coming Monday, the housing crisis will be discussed among the council.
Mehl says that another item that could be revisited, the local option sales tax.
Several million tourists a year use Bozeman’s infrastructure every year and don’t pay for it.
So the tax option that could eventually be looked at would be providing some relief for the people in the Bozeman area.
“It would be a tax cut for Montanans,” Mehl said, “because the Minnesotans that came through, or the people from Florida that came up to going skiing would be paying some money.”
The people of Bozeman would have to vote it in and then every seven years it would be reevaluated.
“[We would] exempt food clothing, housing, transportation, so you’re not paying more for your car or your rent but we would be capturing a lot of that tourist money,” Mehl said. “we would be giving [that money] it back to Montanans.”
Mehl went onto say that tax money could go back to supporting local parks and schools.
In years past it has not been voted through, right now the city, county, and schools only use property taxes as a way to pay for services
So the local option tax would provide another pool of finances for resources.
Under the Montana constitution, you cannot have a tax rate higher than 4% if the area were to take on the local option it would be at or under that.
But Mehl says down the road this is a conversation that will be had again.
The mayor did say he did get into public service to make a difference for the community he loves and is looking forward to continuing to work hard to make Bozeman a great place it is to call home.