Mayor proposes budget that would increase taxes 3.92%


Mayor proposes budget that would increase taxes 3.92%

MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula Mayor John Engen has released a budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 that would increase taxes 3.92 percent.

Engen says the number includes property taxes, increases in park special districts and road districts and a proposed public safety and justice special district.

Engen says the funds will help fulfill union contracts, pay wages, purchase new fire equipment and build police facilities.

"We get lots of miles and lots of years out of our equipment, but there's a point at which public and firefighter safety comes into play," said Engen.

Funds will also go toward the city's sexual assault response program.  

Engen is also proposing funds for the city clerk's codification efforts, which Engen says would help update the Missoula municipal code posted on the city's website.

"In some ways, I feel a tremendous responsibility to be up front about the fact that these things cost money," said Engen.

Engen's proposal letter indicates that fiscal year 2014's year-end fund balance in the general gund is projected to be about $4.2 million, and projections indicate a FY15 year-end budget to "build by approximately $300,000." 

The letter indicates plans for $925,831 in road district funds, $641,116 in park district funds, and $350,000 out of a proposed public safety and justice district.

Engen says a property owner with a home worth $250,000 would see an increase of about $30 a year, or around 9 cents a day.

Reactions to the news have been mixed.

"It's time to properly use the tax dollars that they have, instead of asking for more," said Missoula resident Darin Webster.

Webster says he's retired and on a fixed income, and he doesn't have the money to deal with the expenses he expects will be passed on to him. 

"Take into consideration the brand new increase in my health care costs and everything else.  Yeah, I don't have enough," said Webster.

Expectant mom Leslie Gallante tells NBC Montana she's OK with increased taxes if the money is spent in the right way.

"If it's spent on things people in Missoula want to see, I think it's a good idea...I worry a little bit about the amount of taxes in general when we're also up against some school levies that could increase people's taxes in the future," said Gallante.

To read Engen's letter, click here.

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