by William Skink
Stupid, costly things just keep happening in Missoula.
The latest stupid thing occurred because Missoula County election officials couldn’t make a deadline to make upcoming municipal elections mail-in only. So how much is that going to cost?
Missoula’s Sept. 10 City Council primary election will be conducted at polling places, rather than via mail as originally planned.
That’s because a mistake by the Missoula County Elections Office delayed submission of paperwork to the state, forcing the polling place election, elections administrator Dayna Causby announced.
Causby said it will cost between $8,000 and $10,000 to hold the polling place election for the primary, and the added expense has been factored into her office’s fiscal year 2020 budget.
The additional cost brings these unnecessary primary elections to over $50,000. And remember, this is a cost demanded by Mayor Engen to protect the political status quo from another Jesse Ramos.
Some stupid, costly things in Missoula aren’t even known to the broader public yet. For example, did you know Missoula has a bridge to nowhere? You can see it on West Broadway, near the Imagination Brewery.
This project, allegedly funded to the tune of a half million dollars, was supposedly delayed due to increment weather back in February:
The West Broadway Island bridge improvement project has been delayed due to inclement weather.
The work was scheduled to start Monday and upon its completion, will allow easier access to the island which is city-owned conservation land.
The project includes a new pedestrian bridge to the island, improvements to the utility bridge at the south end of Burton Street, an extension of a pedestrian trail between the two bridges and access improvements at the river’s edge, including a small paved parking area and better access to the bridges and new trail.
The island conservation area and a small informal parking area off Burton Street will be closed to the public starting Monday. Construction is weather-dependent and could last through the end of May.
The cost of the project is $500,000, funded by Tax Increment Funding through the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. In addition, Hellgate Valley Irrigation Company is also contributing $10,000 to the project.
The project aims to protect and enhance the recreational value of the island. Its natural setting includes views, river sounds, birds and small wildlife, according to a news release.
I use the word “allegedly” because I’ve heard the project actually cost significantly more. And I say “supposedly” because I have also heard the delay in opening the bridge is most definitely not because of weather, which should be pretty obvious, considering it’s August and there’s no snow on the ground.
It’s this kind of stupid, costly stuff that people in Missoula need to know about and should demand accountability for. And boy howdy would it be nice if some local reporting could be done about Missoula’s bridge to nowhere, maybe BEFORE the upcoming municipal elections.
Out of control spending is not just some conservative talking point, it’s the constant, persistent reality of those who arrogantly disperse OUR money through the unaccountable Missoula Redevelopment Agency. Projects like the art park and the library can balloon hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget and in rides the slush-fund calvary to save the day.
If you can’t afford to pay your property taxes, will this calvary ride to your rescue? Hell no they won’t. These unelected minions of the Mayor are too busy operating the TIF skim & give scheme, directly contributing to the ever increasing tax burden.
There WILL be an opportunity for the people of Missoula to send a message in the upcoming Municipal elections. My concern is that a diversity of thought will get squelched by Engen’s expensive ploy to limit the playing field, then he will interpret that electoral outcome as a mandate to continue the TIF shell-game with our tax dollars.
And though the Mayor himself is not up for reelection for a few more years, I don’t think it’s too early to start thinking about voting ABE (Anyone But Engen).