Some of the things the City of Missoula wants to spend money on next year should be questioned.
- The city needs $40,000 this year, $85,000 next year, and $100,000 the year after that to hire someone to take care of the turf on the Fort Missoula regional playing fields we paid over $40 million for less than a decade ago.
- Then we have $100,000 for JEDI supplies and purchased services, or the Just, Equitable, Diverse and Inclusive Missoula. No explanation is given on what those supplies or services might be.
- $82,000 is needed over the next couple of years to hire an equity specialist to help include equity for historically underserved populations in our Parks & Recreation summer programs.
- The Fire Department is asking for 1,819 hours worth of overtime at $61 an hour. That comes to $112,000. I can’t imagine a private business surviving such a hit. The Department blames the city’s pandemic policy of “if you’re sick, stay home” for their increased overtime need.
- The Health Department wants $579,000 for the city portion of the Missoula covid response. No explanation on how this will be used is given…or if some could possibly help out the with overtime at the Fire Department.
- The Parking Commission needs $100,000 to hire an outside group to study how they can expand their boundaries out of downtown, allowing them to make more money from you to pay for things like…studies on how to take more of your money.
And that’s just from 6 of the 197 budget documents that have been released over the past two weeks.
If you’re a regular citizen and you want to figure out what next year’s budget is going to be…good luck.
I mean, you can go through all the documents from the various city departments, but it’ll take you quite a while.
Central Services has 16 different documents to look at.
Public Works has 26.
But that’s not quite accurate.
There are 35 more in the Public Works, Mobility and Infrastructure Community Investment Programs (CIP).
All the 77 documents I just mentioned were released on July 13.
People on the City Council got a week to look through those before 126 new documents came out for them to look at.
These pertained to Human Resources (4), Parking Commission (4), Fire Department (17), Parks & Recreation (37), Parks & Recreation Community Investment Program (CIP) (52), and Community Planning, Development & Innovation (12).
A week later on July 27, another 20 came out.
These were for the Police Department (9), Attorney (6), Health Department/Animal Control (4), and Business Improvement District (1).
So in less than a month, our part-time City Council members - most of whom have other jobs - are supposed to wade through 197 esoteric financial documents and request forms from the various city departments…plus possibly follow-up with someone in some of those departments about what it all means.
How much of that do you think actually happens?
Or is it more likely that they scan through the documents, nod their heads, rubber stamp it, and vote for approval along with the rest of the Council, never asking any questions?