Billings Mayor Bill Cole talked about the need for local option sales taxes during a meeting with a White House official earlier this week. This, according to a press release from the City of Billings.

Cole was one of three mayors, including the mayor of Colstrip and the mayor of Roundup, to visit Washington, DC along with legislators and county commissioners.

The full press release is below.

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 3:00 P.M. July 30, 2018

Montana Mayors Attend Montana State Day at White House

Three Montana mayors, including Mayor Bill Cole of Billings, and representatives of the Montana League of Cities and Towns recently attended the Montana State Day White House Conference in Washington, D.C. at the invitation of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. The mayors, along with county commissioners and Montana legislators, received a briefing on current issues affecting Montana from Senator Steve Daines, Representative Greg Gianforte, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Under Secretary Mark Menezes of the U.S. Department of Energy, Deputy Secretary Mike Zais of the U.S. Department of Education, and other federal agency staff. The group discussed infrastructure, wildlife management, timber resources, wildfire funding, regulatory issues, health insurance, broadband, and more.

Mayor Sandra Jones of Roundup met with Senator Steve Daines separately to discuss his bill, the Clean Water for Rural Communities Act (S. 685). The bill, cosponsored by Senator Jon Tester, would provide federal authorization for two rural water projects that would serve over 22,500 people in 11 counties in eastern Montana: Dry-Redwater Rural Water System and the Central Montana Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System. “The local communities to be served by the Musselshell-Judith system have already invested over $4 million dollars in this critical water project, which will bring reliable, clean water to thousands of rural Montanans. But this project is at a tipping point - it cannot move forward until Congress passes this bill,” emphasized Mayor Jones.

Mayor John Williams of Colstrip thanked Montana’s federal partners for their support of the coal industry and emphasized the energy reliability that coal production brings to the nation. “There is a focus now on renewable energy. But it’s important to remember that coal is the most reliable source of energy we have. When the system is stressed, it turns to coal for relief. We don’t want to be in a position where the infrastructure isn’t there to provide that relief anymore,” stated Mayor Williams.

After the briefing, the mayors and the Montana League of Cities and Towns staff met with Zachery Michael, Associate Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. “Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. Roads, bridges, trails, parks, broadband – it’s all critical infrastructure,” Mayor Bill Cole of Billings told Mr. Michael when asked about issues facing Montana municipalities. “Whether it’s getting the state legislature to let municipalities vote on a local option tax on alcohol and other luxury goods or getting the federal government back into the infrastructure funding game, our local Montana communities need help constructing and maintaining our aging infrastructure.”