Resort Tax board members and staff brought ideas to the table for bettering the Fall appropriations process. PHOTO BY JANA BOUNDS

Seeking to strengthen and streamline

Resort Tax to heed survey responses for FY21 Fall application process

The surveys are filtering in for the Big Sky Resort Area District (Resort Tax) after the FY21 Spring appropriations. Part of Resort Tax strategic planning is learning and adapting with community needs. Now with FY21 Fall appropriations on the horizon, the team is turning a keen eye on the survey results. Resort Tax operations manager Jenny Muscat as well as the FY21 Spring application subcommittee – vice chair Sarah Blechta and secretary and treasurer Steve Johnson – will be going through the surveys from staff, the board, the community and applicants to try to suss out any changes that need to be made.

The community survey and applicant survey responses will come back in August, but thus far Muscat said there have been no surprises. The biggest challenge will be determining the timing of the meetings. Board members agreed. Board chair Kevin Germain said he appreciated the week between Q and A and the initial allocation meeting because it allowed time to digest all the information, but the week between the initial allocation meeting and the final allocation meeting seemed too long.

“Using this for the Fall Allocation, we shouldn’t have very many new questions. I think we can look at the fall allocation very differently than the June one,” board director Ciara Wolfe said.

Blechta agreed, stating that her big question for applicants will be, “What’s changed between now and the last time you applied?” She will want to ask questions from applicants that were deferred, but the Q and A should not be as extensive as it was this spring.

Johnson noted that he would like to argue for a process of staff-made recommendations for applications asking for smaller amounts.

“I think the idea going into this round was that staff could make recommendations for everything requested that was below $200,000 and we could concentrate on all the big amounts,” Johnson said. “I think we waste a lot of time asking questions about relatively small applications.”

Executive Director Daniel Bierschwale suggested that more measurable results be outlined in project applications.

“In reality, the decisions that we’re making are based on projects. We even picked the fire department project out and said, ‘That wildland apparatus is important. We are going to fund it.’ It wasn’t a decision about, “Are we going to fund the fire department’. It was really about results and [what the] project impact is.”

The next Resort Tax meeting will be held on Aug. 12 from 9-11 a.m. More information can be found at

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