MISSOULA – Faced with the surprise of lower tax values from the state, Missoula leaders will have to look at a tighter budget picture for next year as well as the option of property tax increases to keep current city services.
Missoula got the bad news from the Department of Revenue last week with a roughly $1 million adjustment to the tax base inside and outside the city limits. That means Mayor John Engen and the council are having to re-work some of their original budget priorities.
Mayor Engen is proposing a property tax increase to keep city services at their present levels. His spokeswoman Ginny Merriam says the mayor doesn’t want to cut essential services.
But even then, the city will have to scramble to make ends meet. Many specialized positions that departments had been requesting won’t be funded. Missoula will have to squeeze to cover previously negotiated union salaries and the always present impacts of rising healthcare costs.
Mayor Engen is also proposing a one-time shift of revenues from the Tax Increment Financing Districts which will give $750,000 back to city and county coffers and $1 million for Missoula County Public Schools.
The Missoula City Council will continue analyzing the budget, with an opportunity for public input set for next Wednesday, August 22nd. Final action on the budget is targeted for August 27th.