In March, the City of Missoula conducted a survey in which the top three concerns were affordable housing, high property taxes and city streets, and a citizen’s open house has been scheduled to discuss the issues on Tuesday, May 22.

Mayor John Engen said the issue of affordable housing is complex, and cannot be fully addressed by the city alone.

“City government alone will not solve the housing issue,” said Engen. “This is a combination of working with private developers, nonprofits, and developers and finding ways to capitalize on opportunities. There are opportunities for smaller homes in undeveloped pockets of residential neighborhoods. We did a rezoning not too long ago that will provide another four homes where none existed today to take advantage of the existing infrastructure. Shared-wall living is going to become a reality in Missoula in a different way. Town homes, places where people can start and build equity, and a lot of this is about design and a lot of it is about opportunity in the marketplace. The marketplace is telling us over and over again that we simply don’t have the inventory at all levels to meet the need.”

Engen said the city is wholly dependent on property taxes for revenue, and officials are searching for other ways to pay for services.

“As we talk to our legislators and folks at the state level, are there ways to reform our system so that we are less reliant on property taxes,” he said. “We are considering things like the local option tax that is used in resort communities that provides actual property tax relief while allowing more stuff to get done.”

Engen said the open house will have various stations where specific topics will be discussed.

“What’s on their mind in specific areas where they have concerns,” he said. “If you come to the open house we will have a ‘streets station’, and we want to hear from you about what matters to you about streets. Is it street conditions, is it chip sealing, is it maintenance and the whole laundry list. We just want to get more information around those broad topic areas that folks have identified as being important to them.”

The Citizens Open House will be held Tuesday, May 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Missoula City Council Chambers at 140 West Pine Street.

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