You are on page 1of 2


Councilman Jesse L. Ramos

Reference Topic: FY 2019 Budget
On Wednesday August 15, 2018 Mayor Engen presented his executive budget to the city council. The budget itself
proposed a 3.85% tax increase. Here are some key takeaways and things to look at. First and foremost, we need to look at
the special assessments on your property tax bills. The park special district and the road special districts were created in
2010 and were $200,000 and $300,000, respectively. Yesterday, what was proposed was levying the park district at
$2,056,723 and the road district at $4,289,935. These are ENORMOUS increases in just 8 short years. They are a tax
added onto your property tax bills. So why would the city do this?

The state legislature sets a cap that restricts how much money cities can raise through property tax mill levies. The special
assessments are NOT subject to these caps. This allows the city government more room to raise your taxes over and above
the general tax cap. However, let me also be clear that we are seeing a 10-mill reduction in the general tax this year and
most of your tax increase is due to the drastic increases within the special districts. I was able to obtain the cap
calculations from city staff and we are indeed nearly 19 mills below our cap. We are also taking a one-time remittance
from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency which is funded by Tax Increment Financing. All in all, I think this is a net
positive for our over-burdened property tax payers.

Tax increment Financing money raised within a specific geographic area that is above and beyond what the tax base was at
the time it was created. This money cannot be spent for police, fire, schools etc. Instead it is used to pay for special
projects within the district. A prime example is the walking bridge over South Reserve Street. We were able to take a one-
time remittance with a portion going to the county, to the schools, and some to our general fund. Instead of raising mill
levy taxes which we could have done, the Mayor opted for the remittance. This “claws back” money paid by taxpayers in
past years from MRA, so the city can spend it in FY2019.
The mayor originally wanted to add 3 new police officers but due to “low property valuations” he had to reduce that
number to 2. After speaking to our police officers on many occasions and listening to the citizens of the West side
neighborhood, I believe this is a reduction we should not make. So, I suggested that we take more of a remittance from TIF
to pay for the additional officer. This idea is being studied by city staff and we will be voting on it next Wednesday.

In my opinion, there are three key things to watch for in future years. The first thing to look for is rising property
valuations. If your property valuation rises you will be paying more money even money even if the city does not raise
mills. If the pattern of the two-year valuation cycle holds, we will see a dramatic increase in residential and business
appraisals in 2019. Second, we need to be cautious of special districts. Third, we must address the key issue which is city
spending. If spending increases above what new development will fund, your taxes will increase.


Councilman Jesse L. Ramos

Reference Topic: FY 2019 Budget
In conclusion, we are hitting the taxpayers with another unacceptable tax increase. The city of Missoula does not have a
revenue problem we have a spending problem. I campaigned on better roads and lower taxes and was always asked how
that was possible. The answer is simple, if we reduce our spending we will have more than enough to repair our roads and
lower taxes. During our committee meeting on Wednesday I will be proposing cuts to our budget.
There are enormous numbers of folks being taxed out of Missoula as we speak, including many of my constituents who
have reached out to me. The tax burden has become too heavy for those on a fixed income, single parents, young families,
and many others to bear. I believe we all want Missoula to be an egalitarian place where everyone can afford to live, but
unfortunately, we are fast becoming a city for the elite. With every pothole we forgo to fund another park, with every acre
of open space we maintain in leu of funding another police officer, with every dollar we overspend we are taxing people
out of their homes and denying them basic city services. We need to start budgeting the city like we all must budget our
lives, by living within our means.

Please get engaged and get involved at the local level by attending city council meetings Monday’s at 7 PM at 140 West
Pine Street and share your story.


Jesse L. Ramos
Missoula Ward 4 City Councilman