2015 Missoula Budget Hikes Property Taxes by 2.8 Percent, Fees by 3 Percent
The city of Missoula has passed its fiscal year 2015 budget and Chief Administrative officer Bruce Bender says nearly two-thirds of that budget will go towards one type of expenditure.
"The main issue in the budget was to fund wage increases for the union employees: police and fire, street, waste water, and then also an increase for the non-union [employees]," Bender said. "These contracted, or prior-negotiated agreements are the biggest burden on the city."
It was also revealed that a proposed Public Safety and Justice special taxing district had been successfully protested by Missoula property owners. Now, the city needs to find 300,000 dollars in order to cooperate with Department of Justice requests regarding the handling of sexual assault cases. Bender says the city hopes growth in the tax base will be enough to make good with the Department of Justice.
"We'll try to manage that internally within the [Missoula Police Department] budget and then we'll look for other funding sources," Bender said. "One of the things is that we'll be looking for the opportunity when we get our final tax numbers in august, so if our tax numbers are a little higer we can put some of the extra money towards those purposes, but we will fulfill our obligations toward the Department of Justice."
City councilman Adam hertz was one of two votes against the budget. He says the city has its priorities out of order.
"The city council and Mayor have passed a budget that has increased sidewalk funding by $200,000, they've hired a conservation land management research specialist at about $40,000 a year, another worker for the Office of Neighborhoods at $33,000 a year, and a lobbyist for $30,000 a year," Hertz said. "They're just funding a lot of non-essential city services, while, at the same time telling the taxpayers that we need to pay more in order to fund the essential city services like police and fire. I think it's just the wrong set of priorities."
The new budget increases property taxes in the city of Missoula by 2.8 percent and increases service fees for a multitude of things including fire inspections and subdivision reviews by three percent.