First things first: There’s nothing like starting off a Missoula City Council meeting with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. Super cute.
Secondly, the loan forgiveness to the North Missoula Community Development Corporation passed, but I didn’t get to hear the whole conversation. I was pretty bummed because I wanted to hear from all the new councilors, but I had to leave before they got hot and heavy into their discussion.
I did, though, hear one encouraging thing that makes me think conservative folks around Missoula should be pleased as punch with Councilor Adam Hertz.
When Hertz, one of the new folks, saw the matter wasn’t going to go back to committee, he pitched an amendment. It shaped the finance deal so that if NMCDC pulls in more money than the plan projects, the city gets to recoup some dollars.
Other councilors agreed, including Councilman Bob Jaffe, who proposed the loan forgiveness.
It was a small but I think important move. In the past, it seems like a lot of hollering came from folks in the minority, but not as much action.
This piece of work might not have any impact on the city budget in the end, but it means that a conservative viewpoint helped shape the final product. Yes, of course it’s very small potatoes for folks who didn’t want any portion of the loan forgiven.
I hope to hear Councilors Caitlin Copple and Mike O’Herron talk about these things in the future, too.
What else? Oh, I am always curious to know how Councilman Jon Wilkins will vote ’cause he seems to be in touch with regular folks. So when I saw he had voted yes to forgiving part of the loan after questioning the sales commission, I wanted to know why.
Wilkins said he never thought those types of homes and the limited number of folks who can get into them were a good idea, but the development in general, with the cooperative grocery store and common space, is positive for Missoula.
“Everything else that’s going on over there that they’ve done have been good things. And I hate to jeopardize the whole dang thing,” Wilkins said.
He also said he was persuaded because $200,000 was supposed to be a grant to NMCDC in the first place. And the city years ago asked it to be a loan instead so another organization could get a grant.
Now, a reversal was on the table. Wilkins said the vote he cast surprised even him: “It shocked me at the end, and I came home thinking, did I do the right thing or did I not? I guess I’m even questioning myself today. But it’s the right thing.”
I’m still curious about other questions coming up about the project, but we’ll leave them for another day.
— Keila Szpaller