Amended Fiscal Year 2019 Budget
As the result of adjustments to mill values made by the Montana Department of Revenue, the Missoula County Commission will hold a public hearing to revise the number of mills levied to fund the fiscal year 2019 budget. The hearing will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, in Courthouse Annex Room 151.
Earlier this month, DOR issued revised certified taxable value numbers for Missoula County to account for newly taxable property that the Airport Tax Increment Finance District previously encompassed. With the district sunsetting on July 1 of this year, the value of that property is now used to calculate county mill values. As a result, the value of a countywide mill increased from $220,300 to $222,590, while county-only mills increased from $98,570 to $100,860. The mill value of the open space bonds also increased from $216,036 to $219,262.
The $183.75 million budget commissioners approved on Aug. 23 will essentially stay the same, but the county will need to levy fewer mills to raise the revenue required to fund it. The county will levy 1.89 fewer countywide mills, 0.3 fewer county-only mills and 0.23 fewer open space mills than originally planned, for a total of 182.26 mills, 37.97 mills and 15.42 mills, respectively. This will result in a 3.81 percent increase in property taxes, down from the 4.88 percent increase that the original final budget produced.
Only 24.7 percent of that ̶ 2.14 mills ̶ will fund increases to the county budget, as 75.3 percent ̶ 5.51 mills ̶ will pay for voter-approved bonds issued for the construction of the new Missoula Public Library. The increased tax on a $300,000 home would be $35.03 per year, with $26.37 attributable to the library and $8.66 for county operations and services.
The new mill value also will affect the number of permissive medical mills levied. The county is authorized in MCA 2-9-212 to levy taxes to fund contributions for group insurance. Historically, the county has not levied the amount necessary to cover the costs of its Employee Benefit Plan. To more accurately reflect the mills levied in each fund for personnel, operations and capital, the final budget originally included a 6.36 countywide mill increase to the permissive medical levy, for a total of 13.5 mills. The county will now levy 13.61 permissive medical levy mills, including a 6.47 mill increase for fiscal year 2019. The increase in the permissive medical levy mills for the amended final budget is offset by additional reductions in countywide mills in other funds. Attachment C in the amended final budget shows the mills levied in each fund and compares fiscal years ‘18 and ‘19.
Each year, the county commissioners are presented with budget requests to fund new and expanded projects and initiatives and increases in operations, personnel and capital. Some requests require funding in just one fiscal year, referred to as “one-time” — new snow tires for county vehicles, for example. Other requests require funding every fiscal year, referred to as “ongoing” — increased food costs at the detention center, for example.
One-time requests, if approved by the commissioners, are typically covered by savings in a fund from the prior year’s budget. Ongoing requests may have grant funding already secured to cover the cost, may be covered by spending less money in other lines in a fund, or may require tax increases to cover the cost. Many requests are to cover the rising cost of everything from software licensing and maintenance to cost-of-living increases for personnel and prescription drugs and health insurance, for example. Other new funding may be requested to cover cuts or mandates by state and federal government. This year those requests included costs associated with adding a district court judge, administering a program required to regulate storm water discharge, paying expert witness fees, and providing administrative support to the tax appeal board, among others.
Ongoing requests, especially those that require a tax increase, are closely scrutinized by the county commissioners. In an effort to prepare for and guide their decision-making, county commissioners invited independently elected county officials, chief officers and department heads to collaborate on the framework of a strategic plan this spring. The commissioners then weighed these funding requests in the context of that strategic framework. Namely, did the funding request align with the county’s core values of integrity, innovation, teamwork and community? Did the funding request move the county closer to its goals of healthy, safe and vibrant communities, public engagement, quality workforce, resource stewardship and economic development?
This year, Missoula County’s budget team comprised County Auditor Dave Wall, Chief Administrative Officer Vickie Zeier, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Czorny, Chief Operating Officer Chris Lounsbury, Finance Director Christi Page, Risk and Benefits Director Erica Grinde, Technology Director Jason Emery, Management Analyst Amanda Henthorne and Communications and Projects Director Anne Hughes. The budget team facilitates the budget process, offers support and counsel to commissioners and departments, provides analytical support and seeks to improve availability of budget information for the public.
Anyone interested can view the commissioners’ meeting schedule, find meeting agendas and minutes on the commissioners’ agenda portal, and read the Budget in Brief publication from FY18 to learn more about the budget process. You can also view your tax bill and learn how your taxes are distributed to the various taxing jurisdictions in which you live. Once you find your property on iTax, just click on the “View Pie Charts” link.
Missoula County welcomes comments and suggestions on the budget process. Call the Commissioners’ Office at 258-4877 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Year Ended: