Billings City Council explores new revenue sources to cover budget woes

(MTN News) Billings City Council members directed city staff Monday night to further research ways to raise revenue to fill a $5.6 million budget gap in the general and public safety funds.

Council members directed staff at past meetings to find other ways to make the city money so the council would have to ask for less money from taxpayers in 2020.

“I have been adamant with staff that we not cut this (the levy ask) so much that we aren’t committing to the things we’re saying we’re going to do,” Billings City Administrator Chris Kukulski said at the council work session.

The council is considering a multi-million levy that would fill the majority of the budget gap, in addition to beefing up public-safety services for the future. The proposals floated Monday wouldn’t solve the city’s budget woes, but would shrink the ask of taxpayers.

One way to generate revenue is to raise the fines for municipal infractions. These are crimes that don’t carry jail time, such as traffic violations.

Billings judges usually charge $110 per offense, and a proposal now is to increase that charge to $160. This move would generate about $200,000 per year, according to a memo prepared by Kukulski.