The difference between what the Missoula City Council wanted in the 2018-2019 budget and what it could actually afford was revealed during the Wednesday morning budget meeting.

Ward One’s Heidi West asked the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Dale Bickell what the property tax increase would be if all the requests made over the summer by the council were fully funded.

“If all of the requests were funded that you heard throughout the summer in the budget process that we’re in requested in the general fund, the road district and the park district, the total tax increase would be 11.7 percent, and that also would account for the MRA remittance, so that would be a few more percentage points if that were not done.”

Taking monies from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency may have filled a gap in the city budget, but Ward Three’s Heather Harp likened it to prematurely taking money out of a personal retirement account. MRA Director Ellen Buchanan said funds invested in the usual manner usually bring a return of about 10 times the principal, but due to the current rules, the city will only see a about third of the funds.

“This seems like an absolutely foolhardy fiduciary decision,” said Harp. “I understand that this is hopefully just a one-time decision, it’s not the ideal by any means, and we should not do this ever again.”

Before the council began deliberations over the budget, one member of the public, Mr. Anderson, laid into the council about wasting money and taxing him out of his home.

“I went to school sick to make sure we had enough money to retire,” Anderson said. “We bought a home and last year our property taxes were almost $8,000. Imagine that. Our home is paid for and we’re still paying $8,000 to live in our own home, and you want to raise our taxes.”

Anderson went past his allotted three minutes, but wasn’t quite finished.

“Since my time is growing short, ‘Thank you Mr. Anderson, you’re already over time and we have a huge agenda to get through’. Well, I’m not quite through yet. ‘I’d appreciate it if you’d wrap up quickly’. You are on the verge of taxing middle class Missoulians out of their homes.”

The mayor's proposed budget will only increase property taxes by about 3,8 percent.


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