Missoula County budget proposes tax increase to cover inflationary increases
Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
Missoula County on Thursday unveiled its proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which includes a roughly $5.3 million increase over last year's base budget, largely due to what the county described as inflationary increases and personnel costs.
The impact on property owners amounts to a roughly $22.70 increase in taxes for every $100,000 of a property's assessed value within city limits. The impact outside city limits is roughly $25.05 for a home of the same value.
“We and the residents of Missoula County face some pretty significant challenges,” Andrew Czorny, the county's CFO, said of the state's current tax system and the resulting impact on property owners.
Czorny said commissioners considered more than 100 new budgetary requests from various departments and declined more than $2 million worth.
What remains is around $1.3 million in new one-time requests, which the county proposes funding from cash savings. The county will also consider around $822,000 in new spending that would be funded by property owners.
“The base budget is the budget we need just to continue county operations without any increase in service,” Czorny said. “We managed to keep that base budget at 7.3%, which I thought was excellent since inflation is running about 9.6%. The base budget is the budget commissioners have control over.”
Items outside the base budget include voted levies and bonds.
Increases in the budget include a roughly 17% increase in personnel expenditures, a 3% increase in operational expenditures, and a 27% increase in capital expenditures, among others.
Czorny said a nearly 9.6% increase in the consumer price index was largely behind the budget's inflation over last year. He suggested that the cost of gasoline has increased 37% year over year while the cost of materials has increased 20%.
The cost of natural gas is up 47%, electricity up 4.3% and new automobiles up 12.7%, he said. Like many residents, the county is struggling to pay the higher costs and must find new revenue to make up the difference.
“A $1 million road is now a $1.2 million,” Czorny said. “To continue to provide services in the current environment depends on our capability to increase income and revenue.”
The Missoula City Council this week approved its new budget, which includes a tax increase of $44 for every $100,000 of a home's assessed value. The county's budget, if approved, would add to the increase, bringing it around $69 in new taxes for every $100,000 of a home's assessed value.
“The state's system of funding services at the local level is broken,” Czorny said. “Property taxes cannot be the only source of income local governments rely upon to provide essential services to their residents.”