by Travis Mateer
It’s too bad the weather yesterday wasn’t cold and dismal because cold and dismal will be the future for crisis services in Missoula if voters deny the $5 million dollar mill levy. Or so the story goes.
The promotional event was held at the fire station and featured the new Mayor, two County Commissioners, and some of the people carrying out the programs that this money COULD benefit. The event did NOT have our outgoing Sheriff or lead County Attorney present, something I felt compelled to ask about before the speakers shuffled off inside to administer the pro-levy propaganda directly.
I’m not sure who needed the convincing, since the audience seemed comprised of those paid to be there or just generally supportive. Maybe even THOSE people need some convincing?
To keep any program hostages from straying off the reservation, the Missoulian is helping tie the closure of the Authorized Camping Site to the worry about losing funding if the mill levy doesn’t pass. Not the ACTUAL LOSS of funding, but just the fear of the loss of funding. From the link:
The difficult decision to close the Authorized Camping Site for homeless community members in Missoula illustrates the dire need to pass a crisis services levy in order to build, fund and staff alternative sites, say city and county leaders.
This paragraph doesn’t read quite right. Let’s try it this way:
The difficult decision to close the Authorized Camping Site for homeless community members in Missoula illustrates the dire lack of planning that a crisis services levy won’t fix, but we did it anyway because it will help justify the money we’re asking for.
There, I think that reads better, don’t you?
Further down in the article, the funding mechanism described by the Missoulian fails to properly use the word PERPETUITY. This is an important word to think about because it highlights the fact this money has no sunset clause, or other ways to assess what we’re paying for, so we can’t stop paying for the programs if they’re not working. From the link:
The levy would raise about $5 million per year, and would cost property owners approximately $27 a year per $100,000 of assessed home value.
Yes, for just $27 dollars a year from each property owner, we can do amazing things, things that Mayor Hess described in this totally not confusing speculative quote about the pie-in-the-sky possibilities of making the winter emergency shelter an all year emergency shelter, giving us TWO WHOLE emergency shelters in Missoula (the Poverello Center being the other one):
“If the levy passes, we will have stability and predictability of funding that will allow us to make long-term decisions and do long-term planning,” Hess said. “And I would’t be surprised at all if we could come up with a year-round emergency shelter option that took the place of the Emergency Winter Shelter and also provided a place of respite in the heat and smoke and other times of year and was really a replacement for both of those services.”
After Mayor Hess’ confusing quote, Commissioner Slotnick chimed in with how money will make them more thoughtful and less likely to use duct tape and baling twine:
“We pulled these efforts together with access to time, money and a whole lot of baling twine and duct tape and extra effort on the part of staff,” Slotnick said. “And as for the future of these things, our commitment will not waver but our access to funding and a lot of the future depends, not entirely, but depends on the outcome of this levy, which would allow us to put together more thoughtful, robust efforts designed for the long-term.”
It’s very difficult to hear that more money is needed to be thoughtful when an ENTIRE DECADE has gone by since the initiation of Missoula’s 10 year plan to end homelessness, which launched in 2012. If that sounds like a long time ago, that’s because it was.
I’d like to say this promotional event was the least convincing thing I witnessed on Thursday, but, sadly, a few hours spent in the Mineral County Courthouse listening to the impressive gaslighting from Wally’s World actually takes the cake.
But that is a story for another day.
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