The Missoula County Commissioners recently approved the new 2020 budget that includes an eight percent overall tax increase.

Commissioner Dave Strohmaier was direct in explaining the commission’s decision; no more kicking the can down the road.

“Before we even got our revenue figures from the state of Montana Department of revenue we were looking at what were the costs necessary to sustain the exact level of services that we provided and delivered to the public the prior year,” said Strohmaier. “We have expenses going up by virtue of negotiated union contracts and the basic cost of business is going up, so that’s part of it.”

Strohmaier said one aspect of the increase deals with items that have been neglected over the years.

“This is something I've been concerned about for a few years, since I’ve been on the commission, is what things have we deferred maintenance on or have kicked the can down the road,” he said. “The day of reckoning has come. In some respects we have come to that point.”

Strohmaier provided some examples of budget items that commissioners decided had to be funded.

“Built into this budget is a couple of new school resource officers for the sheriff’s office who will also double as recreation patrol officers during the summertime taking care of recreation sites along the rivers,” he said. “Another example is courthouse security. We’re adding a new deputy for district court and I’m under no illusions that that will solve all of our security issues in the future, but those are expenses that we have kicked the can down the road for a number of years and we are finally saying we have got to do something now and that translates into an increase in what we’re needing to levy.”

There is an eight percent property tax revenue increase proposed in the final budget.


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