Archive for September 22nd, 2007

by Rebecca Schmitz

Impact fees and SIDs are technically different things, but their purpose is the same: to help fund the necessary infrastructure that specific neighborhoods and the city as a whole requires. You know, like sidewalks, bike lanes, road construction and repair, and the widening (or narrowing) of the same. Either you, as a potential property owner, will pay upfront as part of the purchase price when costs are lower and the work can be easily completed, or you’ll pay far more years down the line, when streets and private property–yours now–has to be torn up to get the job done. Who’s against impact fees? No surprise there, the Missoula Chamber of Commerce:

Opponents say the proposed cost is exorbitant and unfair, though they don’t dispute the need to find ways to pay for roads. “It’s a complex problem and we are happy to work with the city to look at alternatives,” said Gary Bakke, with the Missoula Chamber of Commerce.

And who thinks the Chamber should play a role in city planning? Ward Two City Council incumbent Don Nicholson.

Ward 2’s Nicholson said Missoula is not friendly as a whole to business. Involving the Chamber of Commerce in planning would help, and paying attention to zoning could as well.

Let’s ignore for the moment the tired old argument that Missoula isn’t “friendly to business”. Really, if you look out your window you can practically see the city moving by the nanosecond towards Frenchtown in one direction and Clinton in the other. If Missoula didn’t like business, somebody then needs to explain why the entire city is debating the direction of sprawl, infill and growth. Like suburbia or not, those are the three best indicators of a healthy economy. No, let’s think about a City Council candidate who thinks the input of a specific special interest group is more important than average citizens–the same citizens who will have to pay the eventual SID taxes just a few years from now, when Missoula moves past their neighborhood on the march towards the future.

Whether or not the final Hillview Way assessment is correct, I’m sure Dr. Linda Frey can tell you all about the consequences of shortsighted planning. Depending on the size of their property, Ward Two voters need to ask themselves if the Chamber and Don Nicholson will be there to help them pay that possible SID tax of up to $65,000 when it’s their turn to write a check for road reconstruction.

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