Archive for August 4th, 2008

by jhwygirl

An email from a reliable friend tells me that Gary Brown, opponent to Bill Nooney in House District 100, has withdrawn due to medical issues.

I certainly wish the best to Gary and his family. Health should be foremost.

This means E. Willis Curdy will likely pick up the challenge. Curdy was Brown’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Brown besting Curdy by less than 70 votes.

More in the future – in the meantime, good, positive thoughts for Gary and his family.

by jhwygirl

Boy, what was I, one for three on yesterday’s posts? Sometimes you just gotta walk away from the keyboard…..

Councilman Ed Childers – an all to infrequent poster both here and at his own weblog – sent me some clarifications on my post from yesterday, Thoughts on That Seemingly Defunct Gas Tax.

Apparently the city’s police station won’t be on the levy and bond list for the next election, and the city isn’t complaining about maintaining the county roads, because, well, they don’t maintain the county roads (a fact I knew, btw…)

We differ in our view on the PAC issues – the story I link to shows that MRA is writing up a urban renewal district to meet the needs of a potential developer of the PAC and the mayor does seem to continue to be awfully cushy-cushy with the whole deal…but Councilman Childers is entitled to his opinion. Maybe it isn’t city council, but it is city entities seeming to push the big elephant forward. That and some well-connected citizens, I guess.

Boy, I really don’t like that PAC, do I?

Ed’s pretty fancy with his MSWord skills too – check it out: Ed Childers’ Clarifications…

One more clarification, too, was needed: Apparently you do need a permit from Planning & Grants for a money tree. Hopefully it isn’t more than $50.

by jhwygirl

Three or four times since last Monday’s council meeting, I’ve given some thought to Councilman Ed Childer’s .02 cent gas tax proposal.

The goal of Childers’ proposal was to put the .02 cent tax before the voters in a referendum vote.

Surprising, even Dick Haines supported it.

Pragmatism, I suppose – how else are we going to pay for our roads and infrastructure? Dick, seeing the vote go down, noted in his goodbye-to-the-gas-tax speech last Monday, that Missoula needs to figure out a way to pay for its roads – and that the gas tax was a way to get some money from the university kids. He closed off with an ominous warning to homeowners – “they’ll be coming to get you,” or something like that.

I don’t know who “they” are. He didn’t say.

I guess he doesn’t realize, either, that those university kids are paying taxes by paying rent. That rent pays the taxes, while also providing someone with a meager profit too.

But I digress…..

In the end, council wouldn’t even return it to committee – it failed on a 6-6 vote, with Strohmaier, Wiener, Rye, Childers, Haines and Mitchell trying to get it back into committee for discussion.

The one thing, it seemed to me, that put a damper on returning it to committee was Childers report that he had spoken with two members of our Board of County Commissioners and that they had said that they wouldn’t vote to put it on the ballot. Clearly, that would have put a kabosh on things.

Why would our illustrious county commissioners say such a thing? I supposed there is some concern with a ballot that is likely to be loaded with lots of bond and levy requests: The county’s 9-1-1 call center ($15,000,000), the city’s new police station ($15,000,000) – both of those numbers which seem to be going up, due to inflation and rising construction and materials cost.

There’s also the $60,000,000 performing arts center (although to be fair there, they’re only asking for $20,000,000 from the taxpayers to get them going). The PAC – BTW – isn’t dead. The city and the Missoula Redevelopment Authority is moving forward with plans to place the taxpayer-funded elephant on the ballot, along with getting the riverfront triangle property into an urban renewal district. That’s because the facility has to provide parking and the only place to put it is underground. That “doesn’t pencil out for the developer,” though – so into a tax district it goes!

Then there’s Missoula County Public Schools that is probably going to make its third attempt at a $10,000,000 levy for facilities upgrades. There was also a technology levy that failed last May too.

There’s also – whew, that list goes on, doesn’t it – the Rural Fire District’s request for funds.

Are some of those legitimate needs? Are most of those legitimate needs?

So the county commissioner’s are concerned about a loaded levy and bond ballot. I suppose that is all valid – but with the PAC on that list for consideration, it seems a little hypocritical.

Especially when we need roads, and we need some way to pay for them.

The .02 cent tax would have funded both city and county roads. Isn’t the city complaining about the cost of maintaining county roads? Isn’t that one of their arguments with the Plum Creek/USFS/Mark Rey deal? That they don’t have funds to maintain what they already have and that they don’t need more? Where, pray tell, is the county going to get money for its roads? They’re in the same pickle as the city is!

I wish the council would have voted to request that the BCC put the tax on the ballot. It was a legitimate request – far more legitimate than the PAC (under any circumstance) – and let the BCC suffer the consequences of not only its hypocrisy but of having interfered with a legitimate request of the city – a city which has little options for funding infrastructure repair and maintenance of city roads.

My dad always told me that a little maintenance goes a long way. What do you think the bill is on our city and county roads right now?

Go ahead – take a guess…..

How about 3 billion buckaroos?

How much longer can we afford to wait for that magic money tree to reign down its crop of $billions$ in funding?

Can I grow one in my back yard? Do I need a special permit?

That bill is growing as we wait, Commissioners. Ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.

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