The Monday Memo

Quote for the day…

Simple fairness dictates that government must not raise taxes on families struggling to pay their bills. — Ronald Reagan

Today’s independent commentary deals with these issues:

  • Great Falls Public Safety Levy
  • Corey Stapleton
  • FIFA World Cup

GREAT FALLS PUBLIC SAFETY LEVY:

I am thankful that the local media/news company “The Electric” covers local government. They do a great job.

The Great Falls City Commission is considering a public safety levy to bring to the voters. There are three levels they are considering, Good, Better, and Best.

This is in addition to the recently passed Cascade County public safety levy that is sticking it to the taxpayers, but that seems cheap compared to what the city is considering. I voted against the County levy.

Each level will cost taxpayers more. According to The Electric, the best package of additional public safety resources is an estimated $33 million $36 million annual levy, not including the recommended two new fire stations for another $20 million.

The Electric also reported:

Melissa Kinzler, city finance director, said that if the commissioners ask for the $35 million public safety levy they’d be doubling the city budget and that would increase taxes to residential property owners by 191 percent.
A $35 million public safety levy would add $914.81 annually to the taxes on a house with a $200,000 market value, according to calculations from the city finance office.

Great googly moogly.

From the quotes in the story, it appears that commissioners are leaning toward the “Best” level, which really sticks it to the citizens in Great Falls.

Any commissioner who votes for any of these levels should be thrown out, especially the conservative ones who tout fiscal discipline.

Finally, I would like to leave the Great Falls City commissioners with the following three words for the three levels of public safety levies they are considering: Kiss. My. Ass.

Read the complete report from The Electric HERE.

COREY STAPLETON:

I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t. Montana’s Corey Stapleton is running for President.

That’s the President of the United States of America.

Maybe he does not mean it as a joke, but it is.

Stapleton last run for the U.S. House in Montana and lost in the Republican primary.

On his website, Stapleton talks about his vision:

I’m running for President to change the way we think of ourselves,
as Americans. There is untapped greatness in our country, if we
will only free ourselves from the pettiness, dishonesty and
financial mismanagement of the current political class.

You can visit his website HERE.

FIFA WORLD CUP:

In case you missed it, the FIFA World cup is starting with the USA Men’s team playing today (Monday) and Friday. Those matches start at noon Montana time and can be seen on Fox.

More information can be found HERE.

## HAVE A GREAT WEEK ##

15 thoughts on “The Monday Memo

  1. At one time Rick said Great Falls had a cancer and treated its taxpayers like an ATM machine. Now he says we are on the verge of being discovered we need tens of millions in taxes to get ready. He’s only been in office two years and already we are in the top five cities in Montana in which to live. Who would have known?

  2. Warning long reply. Sorry in advance.

    A couple other angles on those public safety levy numbers:

    – The total new public payroll positions they want is 112, if the Electric numbers are correct. 112 new taxpayer-funded civil service jobs, all at once.
    – The $36M not only doubles the general fund, it more than doubles the taxes levied for the general fund, which is now $27M according to the budget.
    – Based what I think I heard director Kinzler say on the video, a taxpayer with a home valued at $200k (assessed) would see a tax increase of around $1,000, or almost a 200% increase for the City component of your tax bill. So if the current tax bill you have to pay the county each year is $2,200, that would go to $3,200. A 45% overall tax increase. Roughly. And the fire stations are extra.
    – Those folks living on a fixed income like Social Security – did their income go up $1,000/yr to pay for this?
    – The Electric notes that the extra 20 patrol officers would be out there writing so many new citations that two new people would be required in the city prosecutor office just to deal with them all. Hey, let’s all vote to pay our good money to fund more cops swarming the streets writing a bunch of new tickets for our bad selves.

    Other thoughts:

    – The attitude of Commissioner McKenney “Take it or leave it, if they reject it, that’s on them” was kind of insulting. The commissioners seem intent to offer up just one giant take it or leave it proposal instead of offering any alternatives. What if people like the idea of expanding the fire department to lower insurance costs, but are not so hot on a massive and oppressive new police force? Or maybe people like the idea of more cops or court personnel but not quite so many? Sorry, citizens, it’s not up to you. Take or leave the commissioners’ biggest proposal.
    – Which isn’t surprising, because not once during the process from Crime Task Force to now have they actually asked the public what they want. The one set of public comments the CTF solicited, on their initial recommendations, were pooh-poohed and pushed aside by Commissioner Tryon – “We’re not really deciding anything here, you will have plenty of time later.” Of course that time never came. Now here we are with the commissioners preparing to shove the wish lists of City staff down our throats claiming it’s what the task force recommended. But it’s not anything the citizens/taxpayers had any say in formulating.
    – I am not sure Mayor Kelly’s proposed selling point of, “For only an extra $100 a month you can have better police and fire service!” is going to be a huge winner. We’ve got what we’ve got now for maybe $42/mo, and it’s not horrible. Just what will we get that’s worth triple what we are paying now? How many fewer crimes? How many fewer total loss fires? Etc. Let’s see the projections. And how that will be measured.
    – There was a lot of commissioner talk about growth that’s coming. Any day now. Huge growth. Stupendous growth.
    — The growth due to the ICBM replacements is believable, when it begins starting in 2026 (and then disappears 8-10 years later). But we would still be paying this extra $36M/yr long after the new missiles are in the ground.
    — However Commissioner Tryon’s oft-repeated claim that Great Falls is about to be “discovered” and explode with growth might not resonate quite so much with people who have lived here many years and seen very little growth, year after year after year. What’s new that suddenly makes GF so attractive? Did a breathtaking new mountain range spring up just outside town? Did a big new university open up? All of sudden we have a big center of world class restaurants and cultural attractions and so on? Or is a big brawny and visible citation-writing police force what’s supposed to make it attractive, in a sort of cart pulling the horse fashion?
    – And if the big growth is what’s going to require all the new cops and firefighters and court personnel, wouldn’t all those new residents, renters and homeowners (and employers, if any) be expected to pay a big chunk of the bill for the extra cops and firefighters they’ve made necessary? Won’t the taxable value of property in Great Falls city limits also be growing along with the new population? When they show up, that is. But now it seems the plan is for those who already live here to pay the bill in advance, beginning January 2024 in either the form of greatly increased property taxes or increased rents so landlords can pay theirs.
    – Some comments during the Tuesday commission discussion indicated some City officials maybe saw the $36M as some kind of slush fund to make up current budget shortfalls in other areas, too. Seems bogus.

    I discussed this big new tax increase with friends and acquaintances all last week after Tuesday, and over weekend. It doesn’t seem real popular, so far. “F*** that!” was the most frequent response. And most of these people were right-leaning and far right, law and order types. Our commissioners probably need to put some thought into acceptable alternatives, and choices, instead of sticking with that “If they reject this big increase we recommend, that’s on them” attitude. If the city really needs more cops and firefighters it is their job to figure out what’s really palatable instead of passing the buck like that.

    • Great analysis. There should be a cop on every block for that money. Crazy. Batshit crazy proposal. Thanks, JmB

      • Good luck with your procedure. If you’re fasting before maybe drink Gatorade as your last fluids. Before my minor surgery my doctor recommended it. Think it helped when I couldn’t drink in the morning.

      • Thanks.

        I don’t do Facebook or Twitter so don’t know what people are saying in the usual GF area argumentation/persusasion/namecalling forums like Tryon’s Facebook. If they aren’t already talking about this monster tax increase in those places, get the word out.

  3. Safety levy.

    Good- just the head.

    Better- a bit of shaft.

    Best- TO THE NUTS!

    Back the blue and get a good screw!

    They’re bettin’ that we’ve gone full MAGA, and they may be right. Thank God I kept my land in the county. Might have to move out there sooner rather than later. Where’s all the tax revenue that all this new growth was supposed to bring? It burns the hell outta me to be subsidizing every new car wash, multiplex, casino, hotel, medical school, and Walmart. And wait til’ Doney gets his slaughter plant. Only millionaires will be able to afford here in Stink Falls.

    • Joe McKenny wants us to do a ride along with the cops. Hey Joe, why don’t you spend a day with folks making a crap wage trying to pay the bills and feed their kids?! But if you need money, get it the old fashioned way. Tax the perps! Hotel/motel/casino tax! And a local option sales tax! Tax the perps robbing us regular citizens. It’s only fair that if they want improvements caused by their ever expanding progress, they should PAY for them! More car washes and hotels doesn’t increase my bottom line any. And they probably attract more crime than anything else. They bring the crime, put tax increases on their dime! Tax the crap outta them and see how fast the city commission whizzes backwards!

      • IMO the bars/casinos attract/generate more crime than things like hotels. If you talk to local tavern association guys some casino is supposedly getting robbed every day “but you just don’t hear about it”. Maybe a public safety surtax on businesses / addresses that consume a lot of police resources?

        The City folks trying to clear out the homeless people by FUMC were real fond of citing the police call numbers for that parking lot. Maybe it would be helpful if our police also publicized the call numbers for every “problem” address in Great Falls that requires more than ordinary police attention (including problem landlords). I wonder how those numbers would look for a certain bar over by the fairgrounds where it seems there’s always someone or other getting beat up or shot in the parking lot. In all the time the homeless were at FUMC I don’t think there were any shootings there. Compare and contrast with Great Falls’ most favored industry, the casinos.

        This city is pretty much the same size people wise and land wise as it was in 1970. I wonder how current and desired public criminal justice head count numbers compare to then. But that aside, I can understand the need for some degree of additional revenue now. The salaries for City union police and firemen and city court help goes up all the time, even while the median income for Great Falls as whole languishes behind the state and nation. But the City department heads gave the commissioners 3 options that would work for them to some degree. The lowest one was rated “good”. Good is a positive rating. It’s the commissioners who decided they want to “take it to the max”. But who knows maybe they did that on purpose right off the bat to get people all riled up, so a lower option later would look sweet by comparison.

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