Maybe it’s legal.
But to me it smells like shit.
What I’m talking about is the fact that Missoula’s Stockman Bank has agreed to sign-off on $3.5 million in tax increment financing for the Mercantile Investors.
Not following me?
Back in March Stockman Bank received $1.5 million in tax increment financing, approved by the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.
Now Stockman Bank is turning around and giving the go-ahead for another group of private interests to receive Missoula tax money.
To me, that’s a serious conflict of interest.
Kind of a ‘rub my back, I’ll rub yours’ situation.
I mean, back in March the MRA’s Board of Directors gave $1.5 million in tax money to Stockman Bank.
We learned at the time that Stockman Bank’s new downtown bank would generate up to $300,000 a year in taxes.
So now it'll be 5 years before Missoula makes any tax money from that bank…considering they effectively gave them back 5 years of tax payments.
And for what?
What is the reason for this?
Why are Missoula taxpayers once again forced to fund the development projects of banks and malls and theatres?
We have no idea what kind of taxes the Mercantile Investors will be paying to the City of Missoula.
If it was the same $300,000 a year that the bank is paying, it’d take us nearly 12 years to recoup the $3.5 million handout the MRA just authorized.
This at a time when Missoula’s mayor is whining that Missoula’s growth is not generating enough tax income.
No shit, Sherlock – you’ve given most of these developers a pass on their taxes for the next half decade or longer!
What we do know is that this $3.5 million giveaway to the Mercantile Investors is meant to cover:
- $1.6 million in utility line relocation
- $1.5 million to help tear down the Merc
- $350,000 to preserve the Merc Pharmacy
We’re told that these “were requirements implemented by the Missoula City Council” in order for the project to be approved.
I cannot believe this.
You’re telling me that these rich Mercantile Investors wouldn’t pony-up another $3.5 million to finish their $37 million project?
I find that hard to believe.
So we have yet another situation where Missoula taxpayers are forced – without even asking them what they think – to pay for the construction and development of private businesses.
I call this corruption.
Stockman Bank was started up in Montana in 1944 by William Nefsy.
His grandchildren, Bill and Caren, currently own and run the bank, together with sister Caren Coffee and their mother Virginia Coffee.
All are from Miles City, where they also own a statewide insurance company and a wealth management company.
They’re also one of the Top 5 landowners in the state, with 168,000 acres in Custer and Rosebud Counties.
They’re conservative Republicans and their board of directors is all wealthy farmers and ranchers.
The good ol’ boys.
Bob Burns is in charge of all the Stockman Banks in Missoula.
There are 2 branches in Missoula and a total of 33 branches in the state.
The main branch is located in Miles City. In total, the bank has $3 billion in assets.
This bank doesn’t need taxpayer money, period.
One of the things that most Montanans will notice about this bank is how much money they waste.
You see this in the fancy buildings they’ve been putting up over the past few years.
Walk inside and you’ll see finer floors and carpets than your home, more expensive furniture than you’re able to afford.
It’s because they’re using your money to buy all that stuff.
Just another sign of the banker’s greed.
We see it here in Missoula.
A bank that got free tax money now turning around to ensure other private businesses get it too.
Rub my back, I’ll rub yours.
Our Missoula Redevelopment Agency is with them all the way.
Remember, few Missoula agencies spend as much money as they do. We discovered just this week that the MRA has $16 million in miscellaneous expenses.
Just more corruption in the Garden City.
Business as usual.