Well, let’s be completely honest here – we’re not really getting new parks, we’re getting…well, what the hell are we getting?
There was a time when $42 million was a lot of money, and the idea of spending it on some fields and swing-sets would have repulsed a lot of people. Not so today! No, today we think, damn, maybe that isn’t enough, don’t ya think?
I’ve written it before and I’ve said it out loud and I’ll do so again right now – there is a high degree of stupidity reigning in Missoula right now.
This is what we’re getting for that $42 million Missoula County Parks and Trails bond, and how it’ll be divvied up:
- $38 million for the Fort Missoula Regional Park;
- $3 million to expand the county trails program, and maintain it;
- $1 million to fix and replace old equipment in our current Missoula city parks.
These priorities are so ass-backwards that I’m not sure where to even begin, but I’ll do so at the top to make it easier for everyone, especially those that put this silly idea in place.
The Fort Missoula Region Park
The thing will take until 2016 to get finished, although I’ll put $20 right now on the fact that it won’t get done that year, and will probably cost more money as a result (don’t ask me how, and definitely don’t ask those pushing this project about that). And why the hell it’ll take that $38 million and more than a year to build the following is simply beyond me:
five-field lighted softball complex with fences that could be moved, two separate softball fields, nine full-size multi-use fields for soccer, football, lacrosse and rugby, one lighted artificial turf multi-use field, a concession and restroom area, picnic shelters, walking trails, playgrounds, dog parks for different-sized dogs, open space, historic interpretation areas, pickleball courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts and other amenities.
Rectangular fields are also nice, and I guess we’ve got but one. Yes, the world really is crashing down around us when the fields don’t have the right dirt under the grass and you’ve got to play on a circle or square instead of a rectangle.
But let’s not be snide. Instead let’s talk about money. After all, the question that’s on all your minds is what will the cost of this new Fort Missoula Regional park be each year, no matter what revenue they make?
- Maintenance costs: $429,000 a year;
- Park Expenditures: $318,187 a year.
That total cost of having this Fort Missoula Regional Park is $747,187 a year. The park is expected to bring in $368,067 a year…meaning, you guessed it, we’ll be in the hole each year for $379,120 a year.
Folks, the thing costs more each year than it’s expected to bring in. I’ve said many times on this blog that I’m not very good at math, but really, are there people in Missoula in high positions that are worse than me? It sure seems that way.
To figure out if there was support for this new $42 million bond measure, the city spent $20,000 on a survey. Here’s some of what we learned:
4.7 percent of Missoula-area adults play baseball, 5.2 percent play football, 5.6 percent play Frisbee, 3.8 percent play soccer, 3.8 percent play softball, 4.1 percent play tennis and 29.7 percent engage in walking for exercise.
Look how great this new book is! Buy it right now, it’s just amazing! Yes the author paid me to write this, but that doesn’t matter because I was going to read this anyways…it’s just so amazing!
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There’s a saying that goes “I wasn’t born yesterday,” and I have a feeling many in Missoula have forgotten this. Also…what the hell? We’re paying a year’s salary to learn that people like walking more than playing Frisbee?
I have to shake my head and wonder what in the world is going on.
A County Trails Program - $3 Million
Fix and Replace Current Equipment - $1 Million
I’m sorry if I beat the bush again and again on this idea that you should spend money on what you have now instead of buying new things. Right now we’ve got squeaky swings, old slides, and some parks don’t even have equipment.
This is what kids want – places to play and be kids. I know parents want to organize and schedule the hell out of their day-to-day affairs, but honestly, just stop. Just stop already, grab yourself by the shoulders, and give a good shake.
Why can’t kids go outside and play anymore? And do they really need a new $38 million complex? I don’t think so, I don’t think so at all. But there are 113 area organizations and businesses that do, and they don’t really give a shit if you have to pay more taxes, so long as they profit.
Propaganda and Taxes in Missoula
Who are they kidding? That last article touts Missoula’s $21.1 million general fund as something to be proud of. I guess if you’re in a dick-measuring contest, then yes, maybe. But if you want to try and come up with that much in property tax revenue each year, then no, it’s not something to be proud of, it’s a detriment and a hindrance.
Bozeman has a general fund of $11.4 million, but the point of this article is really to drive up support for a special options sales tax which will hit Missoula, although it’s planned to only target tourists. Both the mayor and the leading conservative on the City Council – Adam Hertz – support this, as stated in this week’s Independent. I’d like some more reporting on who this hits, but I know it’ll hit those renting cars or buying liquor, as that’s all that’s been mentioned. Liquor?
Of course to get that $21.1 million each year, Missoula has to raise it from you, the taxpayer, and they do that through 193 mills, which, the Missoulian notes, is the “most in the state.”
Of course to get around the cap some cities have on the number of mills they have to raise money – Billings can only have 74 – they have special levies, which are really just fancy names for another way to tax you. To top that off, cities use special tax districts to raise even more money.
Confused yet? That's the idea. Let’s try to break it down here in Missoula:
- The general fund of $21.1 million is raised through 193 mills that were voted for and which add on to your yearly tax bill.
- The special levies raise another $5.5 million each year;
- The district assessments add in another $1.3 million each year.
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But when you break it down to each taxpayer, it comes out to $419 each year for those paying property taxes. Well, maybe that is a lot – to some people that’s a power or phone or internet bill. For some that’s a weekly trip to the grocery store.
Few people in positions of power in Missoula think about this because their pay separates them so much from the common people they purport to govern. This creates a ‘head-in-the-clouds’ mentality that allows misguided and terribly thought-out plans and ideas to come to fruition.
Normal checks and balances do not apply to ineptitude and incompetence, and I think you’re seeing that quite clearly here in Missoula. Already one county commissioner was voted out of office in the primary and I doubt we’ll be seeing the same folks in the next race.
Overall, Missoula residents are paying $27.9 million in taxes each year, the second highest in the state. (Billings is $45.6 million and Bozeman is third with $18 million).
It’s a lot of money, and if you look at graphs of what we were paying just a few years ago – like those supplied by the Independent this week – you’ll see quite clearly that things have taken off exponentially under this current mayoral administration.
- $666 in city taxes;
- $411 in county taxes;
- $736 in school taxes;
- $57 in special district taxes.
That all adds up to $2,409 if your home is worth $107,000. But since the average home price in Missoula is $245,000 it means you’ll really be paying $5,515 each year in taxes in Missoula.
Now is that a lot of money? Yes, it is, and that’s why politics in this city and county will change unless the current Democrats in charge can be reined-in when it comes to spending.
The flyer looks great, but like propaganda that’s been put out by the state and local and out of state businesses in the past, it’s misleading, provides few specifics, and will put you down a path to misery.
So to answer the question ‘Is paying $42 million for parks in Missoula a good idea?’ I’ll have to say, no – no, it’s a terrible idea.
I hope you’ll join me in voting against these new parks in Missoula come November 4.