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Posted August 16, 2018

CITY BUDGET – A PROPERTY TAXPAYER’S PERSPECTIVE

A Look Back

Here’s the big picture for last year’s FY2018 City budget:

(1)

Beginning-of-Year Balance

$36 million

(2)

Outgo: Budgeted Expenditures

-$160 million

(3)

Income: Non-Tax Revenues

+$123 million

(4)

Income: Property Tax Requirements

+$36 million

(5)

End-of-year Balance

$35 million

A Look Forward

This year’s FY2019 City budget is beginning to take shape.  On Wednesday, August 15, Mayor Engen revealed parts of his budget plan. We now know that the City will require Property Taxpayers to provide $36 million again this year.  So, we now know the value of item (4) for the new fiscal year. Amounts (1), (2), (3), and (5) should be known in the next few days.   

There are about 100 numbers on your tax bill, so it can be overwhelming. But, if you look at the section in the center of the page that lists General Taxes mill levies, you’ll see that the City levied 252.27 mills last year. We learned Wednesday that we can expect to see 241.44 mills on our October tax bills. You may hear about a “tax reduction” – be skeptical.  

Because….that’s not the whole story. If you live in the City, you should look closely at the Special Assessments part of your bill where you’ll spot a City Roads  Special District and a City Parks Special District.  

The Roads district was created in FY2011 with an assessment of $300,000. We learned Wednesday that the Roads district assessment for FY2019 will be $4.3 million. That’s an increase of 1,429%.  MTAG will ask for a per property breakdown as soon as the City completes its calculations. Unlike mill levies, special assessments can vary along a bell-shaped curve.     

 Eight years ago, the Parks special district assessment was $200,000. It will be $2.1 million in FY2019, up $1,028%. MTAG will be following the money for this assessment as well.  Remember, the City Council has placed a perpetual 4-mill Parks levy on the November ballot in addition to this special assessment.

Where City Leadership is Headed

Mayor Engen included a letter with his budget, stating that local governments must “find new money.” He has argued in the past for a local-option sales tax. It appears he has support from a majority of City Council members.  They will fund a lobbyist to urge the 2019 Legislature to enact enabling law and to urge opposition to any new restrictions on local taxing authority.

Public Hearing on Monday – August 27, 2018

The Council will vote on Appropriations and Assessments that evening. It is your opportunity to offer your opinion on City budgets and taxes. Time: 7 p.m. Place: 140 West Pine Street. 

Address

P.O. Box 17585, Missoula, MT 59808

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