“We’re likely to have a reduced posting schedule over the next month or so,” Don Pogreba said today at ID.
That’s now four of the eight major Montana blogs that are putting their feet up for the summer.
I count RD, ID, Flathead Memo, and my own site.
I mentioned that there wasn’t much to write about the other day, though since then I’ve been pounding the keys quite a bit.
I’ve also been chastised a bit.
“Nothing to write about?” a recent commenter said. “You have to be kidding! The city is burning your money every day.”
I’m not sure how many people want to read about that, however.
This month I’ve put up the following posts tracking Missoula’s wasteful spending, tax situation, and more:
- A Big Pile of Missoula Tax Stats (148 views)
- Drunk and Homeless and Liking It (179 views)
Not a whole lotta people readin’ those.
I even boosted two of those posts with some Facebook advertising, but people weren’t much interested.
Again, this is probably why so many blogs are taking a break – readership is down.
You’d think people would tune in when they get home from the lake or camping or whatever, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The chaotic November election followed by the swift and merciless special election has turned people off.
They just don’t want to hear it.
And yet we must continue.
That’s why I decided to once again dig into the 372-page City of Missoula 2017 Budget.
I did a quick search today off all the occurrences of the word “miscellaneous” in the report.
I wanted to see which city departments have the most money budgeted for “miscellaneous.”
Here’s what it looks like:
- Missoula Redevelopment Agency: $16,913,919
- Non-Departmental: $4,955,919
- Permissive Medical Levy: $4,774,150
- Wastewater Division: $1,457,338
- Grants and Donations: $909,588
- Cable Television Franchise: $691,433
- Parking Commission: $622,596
- Community Development Block Grant: $577,639
- Clearing Fund: $572,485
- Gas Tax Fund: $564,000
- Road District 1: $503,256
- Home Investment Partnership Program: $437,800
- Transportation: $408,689
- Building Department: $379,260
- Housing and Community Development: $319,032
- Development Services: $286,500
- Parks District 1: $168,214
- City Attorney: $167,818
- Title I Projects: $146,924
- High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA): $110,000
- Police Grants and Donations: $102,818
- Street Maintenance: $92,763
- Police Department: $81,864
- Impact Fee: $74,000
- Fire Department: $65,888
- City Clerk: $64,580
- Program Income Revolving: $64,439
- Street Maintenance: $41,200
- Parks & Rec Trails: $25,000
- City Life Gym: $24,000
- Planning: $24,000
- Loan Fund: $20,000
- Parks & Recreation: $17,810
- Law Enforcement Adjustment Grants: $17,249
- Building Demolition and Repair: $15,000
- Aquatics: $12,000
- Cemetery Care Fund: $10,000
- Cemetery: $8,685
- Central Services: $5,000
- Employee Health Insurance Levy: $4,525
- City Civic Stadium: $3,000
- Municipal Court: $2,500
- Drug Forfeiture: $1,000
- Finance: $500
Those “miscellaneous” expenses sure add up.
The total for those 44 agencies or funds comes to $35.7 million.
Remember, the city has just $60 million in revenue each year.
By far the MRA gets the lion’s share of the money.
For them I added up the 11 projects they had listed…all of which had “miscellaneous” expenses listed but little else.
I’ve tried to dig into what the MRA is doing in Missoula before, but it’s hard to get any definitive answers.
For instance, the $564,000 for the Gas Tax Fund goes to fund 1,000 hours of labor for the $391,200 in expenditures for:
- $135,000 for chip sealing aggregate
- $130,000 for chip sealing emulsified asphalt
- $105,000 for asphalt paving
- $21,200 for winter street sand
Perhaps the labor costs are labeled as “miscellaneous” as the money for them came from an interfund transfer.
I don’t know.
Like most of these things…why not just make a couple more rows on the spreadsheet and label what they in fact are?
For other areas, explanations aren’t there or when they are, they’re very lacking.
Take the $577,639 in “miscellaneous” expenses appropriated to the Community Development Block Grant.
The justification for these are “projects to be determined budget equals $577,639.”
So we’re giving these guys money when they don’t even know what they’ll be building, just that they want to build stuff.
Half a million bucks?
For goodness sake…give that back to taxpayers in the form of lower yearly taxes until you figure out what the hell you’re doing!
You really have to shake your head at city government when you begin digging into these reports.
It’s the same story with the Home Investment Partnership Program: “Projects to be determined budget equals $437,800.”
Rent is often an example for miscellaneous revenue as well.
In addition to this we know the following:
- 5.42% of the city’s income comes from miscellaneous, or $7.4 million
- 1.29% of the city’s general fund comes from miscellaneous, or $716,000
As you can see, the City of Missoula loves its “miscellaneous” funds.
I’m not sure those footing the bill do, however.
They’re called taxpayers and boy, the ones I’ve talked to are just sick of it.
There are 131 days until the city elections in November.
I think it’s time for a change.