Moody’s predicts doubledip recession for Missoula; mayor bullish

Missoula Mayor John Engen voiced doubts Wednesday on CNBC that Missoula will suffer from a double-dip recession.

The number of cities in recovery has plateaued, and more cities are in danger of backsliding, according to a Moody’s analysis quoted in this story.

The list notes Missoula as troubled, but Engen said in the national broadcast the finding is based on an old picture of Missoula’s economy.

“We’re pretty lucky here,” Engen said during the live broadcast, explaining both Missoula and Montana don’t experience the economic high-highs or low-lows that other parts of the country do.

“The Moody’s piece points to trends in the timber industry, a decline that’s been going on the past 30 years, and so we are pretty accustomed to dealing with that and we’ve diversified.”

The show, “Street Signs with Erin Burnett” also brought Utica, N.Y., Mayor David Roefaro to speak. Roefaro confirmed Utica is raising taxes 7.25 percent, but he also said it isn’t much compared with a couple neighbors, upping taxes 46 percent and 48 percent.

Um, ouch.

In a phone call, city finance director Brentt Ramharter shared the rates of city property tax increases in recent years:

2011, proposed: 3.5 percent (special districts of 2 percent plus health costs)

2010: 0 percent

2009: 4.8 percent

2008: 3.66 percent

2007: 4.25 percent

Engen mentioned the special districts in the interview, and that’s one thing that’s caught attention here at home. Some folks fear that without a cap, those fees will just go up and up and up. So far, no one has talked about ideas to restrict them.

But there’s another budget discussion this afternoon. See you there.

— Keila Szpaller