Big Sky Wellness District Initiative
For Madison County Residents
BIG SKY WELLNESS DISTRICT INITIATIVE
For Madison County Residents
A coalition of Big Sky partners is working to establish long-term funding security to meet the demands of health and wellness services in Big Sky. Services include but are not limited to: behavioral health, substance abuse care, counseling, food security, social service resources, ambulance, primary care, hospital services, including inpatient and 24/7 emergency care. In most cases demand for these services is outpacing funding available through Resort Tax, philanthropy & grants, and fees for service. Big Sky property taxpayers in Madison County currently fund services for a Hospital District (Madison Valley Hospital District) but do not have reasonable access due to geography. This effort seeks to redirect those tax dollars towards the service area of Big Sky by creating dedicated funding to meet the health and wellness demands of the public.
WHAT IS A HOSPITAL DISTRICT?
A Hospital District, also referred to as a Special District, is a unit of local government authorized by law to perform a single function or a limited number of functions. MCA 7- 34-21 authorizes a Hospital District authority to supply hospital facilities, heath care facilities, and services to the residents of the District. Big Sky currently has one Hospital District (Madison Valley Hospital District) as found on Madison County property tax bills.
WHAT IS A WELLNESS DISTRICT?
While the petitions will list “Hospital District”, the vision for a Wellness District is to represent a foundation for a healthy community by funding a broad scope of health and wellness services beyond traditional brick and mortar hospitals. In order to address these diverse needs, a new Hospital District must be formed. Once formed, the newly elected body can establish the governing framework to realize the health and wellness vision, create by-laws, and a dba of Wellness District.
WHO IS THE COALITION?
Successfully forming a Wellness District requires cross-organizational partnerships who are stakeholders in the wellbeing of the Big Sky community. Partners include:
- Wellness In Action
- Big Sky Owners Association (BSOA)
- Big Sky Fire Department
- Local health care service providers
- Big Sky Resort Area District
- HRDC/Big Sky Community Food Bank & Resource Center
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR TRANSITION?
As with all Special Districts, the process is defined in statute.
- Discovery, planning, legal research, formation of partner coalition, develop communication materials, draft petitions.
- Notice of intent to withdraw from Madison Valley Hospital District sent to the Madison County Commissioners
- Withdrawal petition formalized for Big Sky property owners in Madison County to withdraw from Madison County’s Hospital District
- (Madison County)Big Sky Wellness District (using the same boundaries as area proposed for withdrawal) formation petition formalized
- Signature collection for both petitions
- Present withdrawal petition signatures for certification by Madison County Clerk and Recorder, Madison County Commissioners will then set time for public hearing and subsequently vote on withdrawal
- If vote passes, move to phase three
- If vote doesn’t pass, consider legal action based on existing state precedent
- After successful withdrawal concludes, tax burden from Madison Valley Hospital District is removed
- Present (Madison County) Big Sky Wellness District petition for certification by Madison County Clerk and Recorder
- Madison County Commissioners set time for public hearing
- Madison County places formation question on the ballot
- Vote occurs
- If successful, trustee election occurs, draft by-laws and implement wellness vision
Phase Four & Beyond
- In order to ensure the Wellness District benefits are maximized for all residents of Big Sky, the coalition will discuss the future of either (a) forming a similar district in the Gallatin County portion of Big Sky or (b) annexing the Big Sky area of the Gallatin County portion into the Big Sky Hospital District, and operating as one entity.
Taxation for inaccessible services in Madison County has long existed and been an ongoing pain point for taxpayers. Census growth in Big Sky increased 176% from 2010. When coupled with post-Covid impacts, this growth has caused excessive strain on community infrastructure. Long-term investment towards infrastructure deficiencies will necessitate transition of Resort Tax funds from traditional programmatic support of wellness efforts.
WHAT TYPE OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT CAN A WELLNESS DISTRICT PROVIDE?
The Wellness District can support a variety of community needs including but not limited to: behavioral health, substance abuse, counseling, food security, social service resources, ambulance, primary care, hospital services and emergency care.
A benefit of this district is the dedicated and adaptability of the funds available to address changing community needs.
IS THERE A NEED IN BIG SKY FOR EXPANDED WELLNESS CARE?
Yes. All members of the coalition frequently report on growing demand and urgent needs for expansion for health and wellness related services in Big Sky.
- Census Bureau data reports a population increase of 100% in Big Sky from 2010- 2020. Projections show continued growth of more than 20% over the next decade.
- From 2021-2022, Emergency room visits at the Big Sky Medical Center increased approximately 10%.
- Big Sky Fire Department continues to see an increase in ambulance transports each year. In 2022, there were 657 transports.
- Wellness In Action (WIA) reports that service hours provided by counselors increased by 247% from 2022 to 2023.
- The Big Sky Community food bank reports a 900% increase in individual case management for customers requesting help with local, state and federal social service programs in FY23. Additionally, the organization had to purchase 250% more in food in FY23 than FY22 and a 97% increase in unique individual customers.
WHY IS A DE-ANNEXATION TAKING PLACE IN MADISON COUNTY ONLY?
The current taxing authority exists with the Madison Valley Hospital District and is geographically the Madison County boundary of the Big Sky Resort Area District. The current property tax collections of those taxpayers is approximately $1.7 million. Gallatin County does not have a comparable Hospital District.
CAN I SIGN THE PETITION(S) ELECTRONICALLY?
No. Electronic Signatures are not accepted in Montana.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO SIGN THE PETITIONS?
Per MCA 7-34-2156,to proceed with withdrawal from the Madison Valley Hospital District, the petition requires signatures of at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the voting taxpayers residing in and owning property in the proposed withdrawal area.
In order to proceed with the creation of a hospital district (to become wellness district), there must be a petition signed by not less than thirty percent (30%) of the qualified electors of the proposed district who are taxpayers of property within the proposed district and who’s names appear on the last completed assessment roll for state taxes. Only registered voters can sign the petition.
ARE SIGNATURES PUBLIC RECORD?
WHERE DO BIG SKY RESIDENTS GET THEIR CURRENT WELLNESS CARE FROM?
The service area of the Big Sky Resort Area District
I LIVE IN THE MEADOW VILLAGE OF BIG SKY. WILL I STILL BENEFIT?
The creation of the (Madison County) Big Sky Wellness District will allow for expanded services and relieve the pressure on current offerings for all Big Sky residents.
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT MY PROPERTY TAXES?
The formation of the new district will require the appropriate structure created by the elected board to finalize. However, the coalition intends to lower or maintain the existing tax rate for Madison County. The current allocation is 10.89 mil. There will be no tax impact initially for property owners in Gallatin County.
IS THIS EFFORT CONNECTED OR RELATED TO INCORPORATION?
No, the Hospital District is a separate taxing authority and not in any way related to formal municipal government.
I WANT TO GET INVOLVED. WHO CAN I CONTACT?
Support from volunteers is the heart of what we do in Big Sky. If you would like to assist with signature collection, marketing initiatives and more, please email [email protected] for upcoming opportunities.
I HAVE A MEDIA INQUIRY. WHO CAN I CONTACT?
All media inquiries can be made in writing to Allison Bradac, Executive Director – Wellness In Action at [email protected]
WHERE CAN I FIND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES?
Montana Code Annotated
In the News (Big Sky)
Tax Education in Big Sky
A Guide to Understanding Taxes in Big Sky