by Travis Mateer
I’m not sure which stage of grief our city officials are in, but it’s clear the collective shock of Missoula voters saying NO to the crisis mill levy is a trauma they won’t be getting over any time soon.
The Missoulian does a decent job capturing the collective outcry in an article titled City staff identifies strategic planning challenges. Don’t let the word “challenges” confuse you, it’s clear that the sky will be falling soon because heartless voters wouldn’t abide by a $5 million dollar levy in perpetuity. Since we’re in BIG SKY country, that means a lot of sky is coming!
Before we get to city officials and THEIR alarm, it might be helpful to remind readers that locals have been alarmed for years about a local tax subsidy known as TAX INCREMENT FINANCING. Why? Because the very nature of this tool, and the “urban renewal districts” that enables it, literally starves the general fund by redirecting increased tax revenue within those URDs to the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. Knowing this will make the commentary from the alarmists that much more galling.
Setting the tone of RISK, which could spell DOOM, here’s Eran Pehan, an adept enabler of those with impulse control issues (emphasis mine):
“With the failure of the crisis service levy, our ability to continue providing these services at their current level today is at risk, let alone growing the program to expand and meet the full need across our community,” Community Planning, Development and Innovation Director Eran Pehan said on Thursday. “So we will have difficult decisions to make in the coming year about how we proceed with these challenges.”
In the realm of community safety and wellness, Pehan said there are risks to Missoula’s ability to serve its most vulnerable citizens in the future.
Do you know what undermines this supposed RISK Pehan claims exists now? A shadow government called the Missoula Redevelopment Agency that’s so flush with money, they can hand out $50,000 dollars to El Cazador to make their windows prettier. From the link:
The Missoula Redevelopment Agency gave its enthusiastic support to the renovation and expansion of a popular Midtown restaurant, saying it could help spark additional improvements in an area described as “tired.”
The board on Thursday approved a $50,000 request from Maria and Alfredo Hernandez to replace the old and inefficient solarium windows in their El Cazador restaurant.
Is “tired” a new metric for assessing blight? Who knows, the “reporter” doesn’t even identify who stated this lovely justification for dispersing $50,000 in public money. Let’s return to the DIRE situation the alarmists are acting alarmed about.
Next up is a fireman, one of the quintessential services a local municipality provides its citizens. Let’s see how worried Gordy Hughes is:
The failure of the crisis services levy also weighed heavily on Fire Chief Gordy Hughes and his team’s plans for crisis response in the city. The Crisis Intervention Team and the Mobile Support Team both face an uncertain future without guaranteed funding. Those services provide emergency support to first responders and people experiencing crises like mental health problems and substance abuse issues.
“We are completely funded through June 2023,” said Hughes in reference to the Mobile Support Team. “Beyond that is where we’re going to struggle.”
Funding is also a concern, Hughes said, for the Missoula Fire Department. In the next year, the department is planning on implementing its master fire plan and looking for a space to add a sixth station in the Sxwtpqyen Area.
“This next year’s going to be a crucial year to us in identifying a funding source to move our agenda forward and this plan, specifically our Station 6 and increase staffing needs for the fire department,” said Hughes.
Yep, things are going to be BAD. And to think, just a year ago, our shadow government had enough money to throw $200,000 dollars at a study to make trains quieter for the exclusive Rattlesnake neighborhood. Maybe quieter trains will keep members of this pampered part of Missoula from losing their shit, thus freeing up crisis capacity for detoxing addicts and Reserves Street car accidents.
Speaking of infrastructure, here’s the assessment from Public Works. Spoiler, it’s NOT GOOD!
Public Works and Mobility Director Jeremy Keene said funding will also present a challenge for transportation infrastructure. He laid out plans for sidewalk improvements and road projects like the Front Street and Main Street conversion, but he said funding remains a question for some of those endeavors. Funding in underserved areas, which also tend to be lower-income neighborhoods, is particularly challenging.
“We recognize that we really won’t be successful with these things unless we have other funding sources and other ways to help pay for those things,” Keene said.
No, Keene doesn’t seem very keen on the future of Public Works to do their work, especially in the places where the poors live.
The most entertaining alarmist award, though, clearly goes to the former financial terrorist who sounds suspiciously like THE LORAX with her sudden concern over the DANGER our local trees are facing. Seriously, you can’t make this shit up (emphasis mine):
Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler also brought attention to the state of the city’s trees, which are “at great risk,” she said, due to numerous factors including rapid development and the age of the trees.
“That’s the one area where I feel like we’re probably in the greatest danger of — loss of trees,” Gaukler warned.
Seeing “rapid development” mentioned as a negative factor from a woman who wants $44 million for an aquatic center is amazing. Because these people are amazing. And, apparently, totally without shame.
What does our Mayor selected in a dark alley at 2am a few months ago think about all this? Does the DOOM help keep him focused?
“This really helps us focus our work,” said Mayor Jordan Hess during a Strategic Plan presentation Wednesday.
The last word in this fantastic article about Missoula’s future comes from the real power in this town, Ellen Buchanan. And I think she might be trying to completely annihilate my irony detector with her concern about housing. Prepare yourselves, readers, this could blow some circuits:
In addition to looking at environmental health, presenters on Wednesday also analyzed the city’s economic health. The area of housing stood out as a concern to Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. She said availability of inventory and land, along with funding, threaten the city’s ability to incentivize housing development.
“So it’s not rosy sailing ahead, but we’re making incredible progress on this,” she said.
After the wave of rage passes, one must understand WHY the area of housing is standing out to the concert-going stealth Mayor of Zoom Town: it’s because the potentially complicit conservatives at the state are fixing to give Ellen a NEW TOOL called WORKFORCE HOUSING, and depending on how this tool is made, MRA could be making direct TIF investments in this new brand of housing by the time the snow thaws.
I’m glad the sailing has gotten less rosy for these entitled gentrifiers who never seem to have enough of other people’s money to make their utopia come to fruition. But to ease the pain of one short-circuiting non-profit influencer, I hope this $80,000 in flexible funding helps (emphasis mine):
The committee allocated $261,550 for 2022 and United Way of Missoula County, which operates the Centralized Housing Solutions Fund, requested $80,000. The fund is a flexible financial assistance tool intended to prevent and end houselessness. It provides funding for deposits, applications, rent and arrears and travel costs for reunification.
On that note, have a great weekend! And, if you’re feeling generous, I accept funding in ANY increment at my about page.
Thanks for reading!