Four Problems With Missoula’s Budget
City Councilman Adam Hertz was one of the few dissenting voices on Missoula's recently passed budget. There was a lot of press about the tax hike involved in the passing of the budget (advertised as only 8 cents per day), but little time was spent discussing what those heightened taxes would go to pay for. In a recent interview with KGVO, Hertz lays out the major flaws he found in the city's numbers.
First, the allotment of $33,000.00 for a lobbyist at the Montana legislature. That price is reportedly up nearly $13,000 from prior years. Hertz says that he "disagrees with the premise of having a lobbyist anyway" going on to say that "a lot of times that lobbyist against the taxpayers of Missoula, he may be lobbying in the city's favor, but not necessarily in the taxpayers favor.
Second, the inclusion of $7,000 for an anti-rape campaign that almost none of the city council (including the Mayor) knew anything about. The anti-rape campaign was dropped into the budget only days before final approval. Hertz says that "It sounds like it could be a good thing, but at the time I couldn't support it because I didn't know anything about it . . . it may or may not be a good program, it's hard to say. I think it was a little irresponsible that it got put into the budget that late in the game."
Third, the addition of a 3% pay raise for the city council and for the Mayor as well. Hertz says that "I think it's important for people to know that they raised taxes to pay themselves more." The total increase was around $8,000.oo, and Hertz says that he will donate his 3% pay raise to Habitat for Humanity.
Finally, on the issue of the City's Healthcare plan Hertz says "there are structural problems there that need to be looked at." To illuminate the structural problems, Hertz says "what it boils down to is that it is far too generous. The employees are contributing a little more than 10 dollars per paycheck to be part of a plan that costs around $762.00 per month."