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Polson commissioners consider resort tax, fill one seat

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POLSON — At the Oct. 6 meeting, the Polson City Commission chose Patricia Corrigan Ekness to finish the term of Ward 2 commissioner Bob Martin who resigned from the position in September after moving to Swan Lake. 

According to her LinkedIn profile, Ekness is a retired market development executive for FedEx. The Mission Bay resident has lived in Polson for 13 years. In her application, she cites her knowledge of small towns and experience working with small businesses as a plus for the commission. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2021. 

Commissioners Lou Marchello and Jan Howlett each voiced their support for Ekness, touting her experience in working with the business community. “I just believe she’d be a positive influence as a member of the commission,” Howlett said.

Commissioner Brodie Moll described his support for Ekness as a vote for more diversity on the commission, which has been comprised of four men and two women. 

“What I’m looking for is diversity and different backgrounds to bring to the commission,” he said. “We were fortunate to have two choices. Most of us have run unopposed in the past so there’s really not a lot of engagement.”

David Coffman, a decorated veteran, former police officer and member of the Mission Bay Homeowners Association, also applied for the post. He was Martin’s preferred replacement and was also supported by Ward 2 commissioner Tony Isbell. In noting his support for Coffman, Isbell highlighted the quality of the candidate’s resume and his commitment to Polson. “He’s been highly involved in the community since he moved here. He’s had a lifetime of public service and is highly respected in that public service.” 

Ed Meece made his inaugural appearance before the commission as Polson’s new city manager. “It’s been a fast and busy three days already,” he said. “The staff, elected officials and community have been very helpful in allowing me to hit the ground running, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build new relationships and pitching in side-by-side to get work done.”

He encouraged commissioners who field concerns or complaints from the public to “forward people my way. That’s a big part of what I’m here for.”

In other business, the commission took a second vote on the resolution to place a resort tax on the ballot. The ballot initiative had already been endorsed by the commission at the Sept. 9 meeting but that vote was voided by a procedural snafu. 

The Economic Development Council, which was charged with recommending the ballot initiative to the council, had tabled the issue in July, pending the hiring of a new city manager. After the procedural glitch was brought to light by Polson resident Murat Kalinyaprak, the EDC met Sept. 24, un-tabled the ballot measure and recommended it to the commission. 

The commission, in turn, unanimously approved the measure again to place a 3 percent resort tax on the ballot on Jan. 21. The tax, which would be assessed beginning next July, covers goods and services provided by campgrounds, hotels, motels, restaurants, bars and recreational facilities, plus luxury items.  

If approved by voters, three percent of tax revenues will go to the vendors who collect the tax and the remaining 97 percent is divided three ways, with 17 percent going to property tax relief for Polson residents, 80 percent to improve streets, storm sewers, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and three percent to the city for administrative costs related to the tax. 

Kalinyaprak, after chastising the city government and EDC for its handling of the ballot resolution, reiterated his opposition to the tax, and his belief that its revenue projections are erroneous. “Slow down,” he said. “Take the time and try to do it right from now on.”

 

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