At Monday night's Missoula City Council meeting, the 2016 budget was approved, and with it comes a 5.69 percent increase in taxes. 

Ward Two's Adam Hertz said the council added to Missoula's already high tax burden.

"The city council finalized the budget raising taxes by 5.69 percent, which is added to the already high taxes in Missoula," Hertz said. "Residents in Missoula already pay the highest taxes among major cities in Montana. The mayor's budget had a tax increase of slightly less than that, but city council members added some additional spending. They did cut a few things, but overall, the council increased spending even more than the mayor requested."

Hertz said the small increases here and there throughout the budget are not as troublesome as the method used to provide funds for the city in the first place.

"We need to go back and take another look and start with a zero-based budget and determine if the money we're spending is truly necessary to run a city," he said. "I maintain that it's not, and that's why, in my opinion, Missoulians pay the highest property taxes among major cities in Montana, and that's why it's so difficult for people to start new businesses, buy homes and make it in Missoula."

Hertz said the council voted to hold a primary for Ward Two, to narrow the field from four candidates to the top two, which will be conducted on September 15.

After November's election, the council will have a new look, in as many as six new council members will be chosen. Hertz said it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to begin a new direction for the city.

"It all depends on what the voters decide," Hertz said. "There are quite a few candidates that are endorsed by Mayor Engen and various members of the council, and if you go that way, you'll get more of the same. There are others who are running more independent campaigns, some who are more fiscal conservatives, and if you elect those kids of folks you can expect to see some change in the way the city is run."

"This is probably a greater shot to make a change in city government than we've seen in many years," he said. "It's a lot easier to run when there's no incumbent, and I just encourage people to get involved and to support the candidates that will represent the interests of the people and the interests of the taxpayers."