In this guest editorial, three Missoula City Council members remind people who oppose the new special districts that 5 p.m. today is the last day to file a protest with the City Clerk.
Councilors Lyn Hellegaard, Renee Mitchell and Dick Haines also point to other alternatives for finding $500,000. In other words, these minority folks offer ways to keep services without the “special districts.”
If $500,000 were a legitimate need, there are a number of alternatives to fund this “shortfall” without the establishment of two new taxing mechanisms. The refusal of the mayor to take advantage of other funds makes it clear the real purpose of creating these two special districts is to allow for future tax increases that cannot be challenged.
Tax increases? Hey, bring them on ’cause those mean quality of life increases, said John Torma in this letter to the editor. Torma, a former Missoula councilor,views taxes not as a bad word but as an investment in community, and one that’s been managed well.
Missoula is an extremely livable city in innumerable ways, and this is not a result of happenstance. It is a result of years of wise use of public funds (i.e. taxes) to establish the infrastructure (i.e. parks, open space, trails, library, schools, streets, sanitation system, downtown, public art, public safety, urban forest, public health facilities, etc.) that allows us to enjoy the enviable quality of life that we have here in Missoula.
By the way, some folks have used the word “shortfall” in talks about the city budget, and that word seems to imply there’s not enough money for the things in the budget. As the guest editorial points out, there’s the “business as usual” way to pay for the entire budget without the “special districts.” The council can vote to levy the entire amount.
The districts aren’t “business as usual,” in part ’cause they aren’t limited to growing at roughly half the rate of inflation. So that’s good or bad, depending on how well or poorly you think your taxes are spent, and how flush or pinched you are.
City Clerk Marty Rehbein just said protests have been pouring in the door all day long. There were too many too fast to get an up-to-date count, but tabulation is in the works.
“It’s been really busy today,” Rehbein said.
— Keila Szpaller