Elections administrator on tap

lintonHead to a public hearing 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, in room B14 of the County Administration Building, 199 W. Pine St. to comment on the proposal to create an elections administrator.

More in the story about the move, which is already drawing some controversy. The proposal would create a staff position whose responsibilities would oversee elections; it would remove those duties from the elected Clerk and Recorder.

Also, here’s a link to some stories about water overuse on www.nature.com that came through on Missoula Community News.

Photo? That’s Jesse Linton, crew leader for the Youth Harvest Project at the PEAS Farm. Photographer Tom Bauer and I are spending some time up there this year for a story.

– Keila Szpaller

*P.S. Bauer didn’t take that photo. He takes GREAT photos. That’s one of my iPhone snaps.

Epic walkabout, and happy Monday

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I walked all over downtown on Friday. Have you seen the prayer flags at Caras Park? The green flag says this:

Missoula Avalanche Prayer Flags, honoring loss and celebrating community. Made by hundreds of hands and hearts to bless the countryside and the people after the February 28, 2014, Mount Jumbo avalanche. Thank you, Missoula.

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The day started out at a preliminary budget hearing with the Board of County Commissioners and CFO Andrew Czorny. It’s a tight budget this year.

The county develops its budget in a different way than the city. In the city, the mayor creates the budget, and the Missoula City Council adopts it, with or without amendments.

In the county, department heads present their budget proposals to commissioners for approval, and at last week’s meeting, the CFO was basically telling them the budget parameters, i.e., the county is not going to be awash in lots of extra money this year, so don’t get wild with requests.

Department heads may ask for onetime funds, and they may ask for ongoing enhancements, but this year, Czorny said ongoing enhancements probably aren’t going to get traction since they’ll mean a tax increase.

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Czorny, above, answered a couple other questions in his office after the meeting, like the size of the general fund. It’s projected to be roughly $18 million; by comparison, the city’s general fund is at some $29 million.

The funny thing about Czorny’s office? Well, I’m sure he has a calculator in there somewhere, but I saw seats, those blue ones below. I inquired. They’re from the Yankee Stadium, an anniversary from his sweetie pie. Neat. His grandfather stoked the baseball flame.

“When I was 6, he took me to my first baseball game, which was a Yankees game, and I’ve been a Yankees fan ever since,” Czorny said.

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Next stop? The Missoula Art Museum to hear about the urban art park. That story here. There’s a meeting about it Wednesday if you want to learn more or offer input. *(P.S. Tuesday morning, I caught up on Friday’s Entertainer. Catch Cory Walsh’s story about the art installation below, “DoubleColumn,” here. AND see some GOOD photos.)

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Then, my favorite: On my way back to the newsroom, I saw this pup named Rogue on Higgins Avenue. She was adopted from Missoula County Animal Control, and I like her spots. (Adoptable pets here!)

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Finally, I ran into Tom Catmull at Bridge Pizza. He was getting ready to play at BrewFest, and that’s over, but he’s got a full schedule this summer, and you can read it here.

We’re lucky to have him. And the museum. And Animal Control. Alright, enough for now.

I hope this post isn’t all garbled because of the photos, but in any case, happy Monday!

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– Keila Szpaller

Condemnation could cost more $$$

waterworksHere’s my story about a big bill the city of Missoula did not anticipate paying in its bid to condemn and own Mountain Water Co.

The Montana Department of Revenue is going to determine ASAP if the city does indeed have to pay. As of early Thursday afternoon, the DOR had not yet responded.

According to Missoula County Financial Services, Mountain Water is the fifth top taxpayer in the city and the county. Thanks to CFO Andrew Czorny for this sheet with the top 10 payers. Thanks to tech guru Anne Cruikshank for help posting it.

I’ve been wondering whether the city of Missoula had served court papers to the defendants. Tuesday, city communications director Ginny Merriam said no. She said the city is working on amending the complaint.

A man told me today that I should write Mountain Water stories that aren’t only about what happens at Missoula City Council meetings.

I’m not going to editorialize. I just had to share it.

The photo is from last night at the top of Waterworks. It was warm and beautiful and quiet there, and I hope you were outside, too.

All for now.

— Keila Szpaller