Missoula city council hears opposition, some support for 2019 budget

Posted at 6:18 AM, Aug 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 08:18:59-04

MISSOULA – Missoula residents urged the city council to avoid raising taxes to balance next year’s budget, saying the tax burden in the Garden City is becoming unbearable.

Those comments came Monday evening as people packed the Missoula City Council chambers to complain, and offer some support, for a controversial 2019 budget that’s using a combination of property tax increases to balance next year’s spending plan. 

The debate over the budget has been especially heated since Missoula had to scramble to cover an unexpected devaluation of tax valuations from the state, with Mayor John Engen proposing to hike property taxes to make up some of the difference.

That debate has centered on how to achieve a balance between budget austerity, continuing city services and the impacts of rising taxes.  While most of the council has expressed support for the budget proposals, speakers were confused, or outright emotional about how to solve the shortfalls.

"I’ve seen the heartache and the pain that people have just trying to stay in their homes, so for goodness sakes, try to live like I do," resident Bill Murray said.

Following several hours of comment and debate — as well as the rejection of several budget-cutting motions put forward by City Councilman Jesse Ramos — the Missoula City Council voted to approve a final amended city budget. 

Ramos was the only councilor to vote against the budget measure.