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Missoula Council OKs property tax add-ons for snow shoveling, weed removal, parks, roads

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Posted at 10:29 AM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 12:29:25-04

MISSOULA — May the nip in the air these mornings serve as a reminder -- winter is but a few months away, and with it the obligation for Missoula residents to shovel the snow off their sidewalks by 9 a.m.

Fail to do so and the city could, by law, hire a contractor to do the chore for you – then send you the bill. Fail to pay the invoice, and the city could – and did on Monday – add an assessment to your property tax bill for the snow-shoveling costs.

Ten property owners will find sidewalk snow removal assessments tacked onto their Fiscal Year 2020 property tax bills, the Missoula City Council decided.

Otherwise, the city would have to pay the $2,717 in charges from the general fund, essentially forcing all taxpayers to foot the bill for their non-shoveling neighbors.

These property owners and tax assessments were approved on Monday:

  • Peter and Marion Stertz, 317 W. Spruce St., $72.
  • Trustee for Dana B. Reifel, 605 Gerald Ave., $110.
  • F.A. Floyd, 930 Monroe, $225.
  • Mary Ann Cors, 1805 34thSt., $210.
  • Daniel McGuire, 1800 34thSt., $210.
  • Brandon Lapsys, 500 South Ave. E., $330.
  • Roger C. Hobbs, 2215 Raymond Ave., $390.
  • West Kent LLC, 645 W. Kent Ave., $450.
  • Jim and Cyndi Meyer, 601 Woody St., $510.
  • James and Louise Jenkins, 604 Gerald Ave., $210.

City workers notify property owners of the violation before hiring a private contractor. Owners of vacant property are called as well, so they are aware of the problem and have a chance to shovel the snow themselves.

If they still fail to clear the snow, then a private contractor does the work and bills the property owner. Violators are identified based on citizen complaints.

The same procedure is true for owners of property with hazardous vegetation or excess weeds.

Fail to clear the weeds after being notified by city workers of a violation, and a private contractor is hired. Fail to pay the bill and the City Council can – and did on Monday – vote to tack the assessment onto your property tax bill.

Two property owners earned that distinction, both of whom were invoiced in the fall of 2018 and have never paid their weed removal bills. They are:

  • Philip and Roberta Deutch, 101 Northview Drive, $629.
  • Bernice Schmautz, Kemp and Sussex, $805.

Two new violations were reported and assessed this summer, but the invoices are still within the 30-day window for payment.

Only Councilman Jesse Ramos voted against the snow and weed removal assessments.

A host of other levies were approved by the City Council on Monday for Fiscal Year 2020. They included:

  • Taxes totaling $381,736.21 for Missoula’s downtown Business Improvement District. The businesses are taxed under this formula: $200 plus 2.5% of the property’s taxable value.
  • Assessments totaling $2 per occupied hotel/motel room per night in Missoula’s Tourism Business Improvement District.
  • A special assessment totaling $361,837.12 shared by property owners in Missoula’s special lighting districts, which were created to defray the cost of street lights.
  • Property tax assessments totaling $4,558,571, shared among taxpayers citywide, for Road District No. 1. These funds go to the city’s Public Works Department, Central Services Department and Development Services.
  • Property tax assessments totaling $2,479,600, paid by taxpayers citywide, for Parks District No. 1. These funds the care and maintenance of Missoula’s parks.

-Sherry Devlin reporting for the Missoula Current