Missoula council set for controversial budget vote

Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 17:55:15-04

MISSOULA – The Missoula City Council might face a big crowd Monday night as the panel moves to approve a 2019 budget which includes a proposed property tax increase of nearly four percent.

But it remains to be seen whether last minute public comment will sway the council majority.

Mayor John Engen has said the money is needed to maintain current services in the face of rising expenses. However, the largest hit came from an unexpected devaluation in property values from the state.

The council rejected a move by Councilman Jesse Ramos to chop $2 million from the budget instead. Engen, and a majority of the council, say cutbacks would be “irresponsible”, impacting everything from community wellbeing to economic development.

Ramos feels the city should adjust spending just like the private sector has to. 

“Need and desire and responsibility and revenue don’t align," Engen said. "And when they don’t figure out ways to do that responsibly. This budget, I hope, does that.”

“I just hate the fact that some of these cuts, in my opinion, have to be there," Ramos said. "Just looking in the private sector, there’s businesses that I work with, business that I’ve seen, they’ve had to take pay cuts themselves.”

The council meeting comes just days after Missoula County also approved a new property tax increase of just under five percent to balance the county’s budget. 

The Missoula City Council meets Monday night at 7 p.m.