Here Are A Few Things Missoula County Wants To Do With Your Property Tax Increase

by William Skink

While yesterday’s post looked at how the CITY is wasting taxpayer money to provide PR protection for our political establishment, today’s post will look at how the COUNTY is doing basically the same thing.

The big difference between the county budget and the city budget is the estimated 2% increase in property taxes the county is expecting to impose. Mayor Engen, on the other hand, is claiming the city’s budget will feature NO tax increase.

Here are the eight broad areas of focus for the budget described in this Missoulian article:

Diversity, equity and inclusion, justice services and reform, environment sustainability and climate change, safe and secure elections, responsible growth and development, public safety, government efficiency ad oversight and information security.

And here are some of the specific ways in which these areas of focus will be funded. And please remember, according to Commissioner Josh “These values reflect conversations we’ve had with constituents and feedback we’ve had over the last year and our own desires to take action.“. With that in mind, your tax increase will be funding fantastic things. Here are a few I cherry picked:

  • $70,000 for an affordable housing initiative that would fund a full-time position to oversee a study and help carry out the resulting strategy
  • $100,000 for an equity coordinator and initiatives. This would fund a staff member to evaluate systems and processes with a concentration on social equity.
  • $30,000 for climate action and resiliency contracted services.
  • $27,000 for a climate resiliency coordinator position
  • $75,000 for an impact fee study. The study would inform commissioners of potential revenue the fees could generate for the county to offset the expenses of additional development in the form of communications for 911, etc.
  • 84,000 for an additional prosecutor. Czorny said there’s been an UPTICK IN CRIME (my emphasis) and the county’s existing attorneys are overworked and understaffed. He said the new position would help prevent burnout.

That last one is particularly galling, considering we are also being told violent crime is going down. This is the most recent article I could find featuring US Attorney Kurt Alme trumpeting the results of Project Safe Neighborhood:

Since implementing PSN, U.S. Attorney Almes said Missoula County experienced a 9.2-percent decline in violent crimes from May 2018 to May 2019. He said overall, Missoula County saw a 25.7-percent decline since PSN’s enactment in May 2018.

Another thing I’d like to point out from the list above is the $70,000 to fund “an affordable housing initiative that would fund a full-time position to oversee a study and help carry out the resulting strategy“.

Doesn’t this sound like the county duplicating the city’s housing office? How many years will this new government position get to develop housing policies pimping density for developers who want to maximize profit, and sniffing out new ways to subsidize affordability, while strategically ignoring things like inclusionary zoning so that sacrifice zones won’t get too close to wealth enclaves?

In a few weeks the budget will be set. August is really a great month to be doing this critical work if one’s hope is to limit public scrutiny on the sausage making going on during these waning days of summer. And with fewer paid reporters keeping watch (or content behind paywalls), it’s more difficult than ever to track what our elected braintrust is up to.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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1 Response to Here Are A Few Things Missoula County Wants To Do With Your Property Tax Increase

  1. TC says:

    Slotnick is definitely earning his stripes under the tutelage of Gentrify John. He is mastering the technique of saying lots of words that have little true meaning. I would be interested in learning who is having the conversations/providing feedback to establish our collective “values”. I suspect its the same core group over and over – just rebranded.
    It is perfectly telling that the money items you listed contain about $275K to either “study” or outsource “consulting”. I’m very appreciative that my taxes will increase to provide the veneer of concern over societal issues.
    Also perfectly telling, that the County is counting on a lack of community awareness to fund another position within the DAs office a week after touting a reduction in violent crime. We have discussed this before about the homeless situation where numbers are manipulated up/down (regardless of reality) to drive agenda and funding. What I find is that usually a positive story is pushed across all local media first for a week or two to reassure Missoulians that all is improving. Then the next week the second, more negative, more realistic and more costly story breaks and is buried – one that actually addresses the reality. As you noted, a media that is either greatly reduced or extremely connected/compliant will allow this dissonance to fly over the masses.
    Finally, Im dumbfounded that City/Co have never really been called to account regarding a two decade effort to transform Missoula. 15+ years of City/Co policies to attract outsiders, gentrify, and turn Missoula into a mini-Boulder tourist hub have come to max fruition this year. Tourist job (at low wages), tourist centric businesses (hotels, restaurants, etc) and small niche businesses have taken the brunt. Housing prices have sky-rocketed to all but monied out of staters. And now even the packed sardine type apartments so beloved by our Housing Coordinator have become overpriced and unavailable to many (hence the increase of homelessness). These are all the direct and tangible results of City/Co policies. Yet they keep taking more taxes (in the City’s case that will be fee increases in 2020 to allow Engen to claim no new “taxes”). Lets keep re-electing them and applauding their governance, as per Pehan “these efforts are starting to align”.

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