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.