Missoula Mayor Explains Proposed New Tax Increases
Missoula Mayor John Engen has presented his proposed budget and it includes a 3.98 percent tax increase. Engen explained what the extra taxes will fund:
"This budget provides for fairly modest general fund tax increase, it takes care of salaries, and we are also proposing this year a public safety and justice special district," Engen said. "This gives us the ability to assess those facilities that we've long needed for police, and to purchase some fire apparatus which is getting mighty old and awfully expensive."
He also laid out a plan for what to do if the city collects more money than expected.
"If we have additional revenue from growth in our tax base, I'd like to commit $50,000 of that to move to a zero-fare system on Mountain Line, and we would do that with a number of other partners," Engen said. "The subsidy to do that on an annual basis is about $400,000."
Engen said the new taxing district is needed so that the city can raise taxes now and continue to do so in the future.
"The necessity for special districts, frankly, is the legislature has artificially tapped our ability to increase property taxes to meet the needs of the community," Engen said. "We are up against a levy cap today that wouldn't allow us to use general fund dollars to support the programs that we're talking about."
The first public hearing about the budget will occur on Monday, May 19th and the mayor has invited the public to come and weigh-in on his proposals.