I thought it important to share the following letter I recently received from someone in Great Falls and E-City Beat has agreed to publish it with small portions redacted to protect the anonymity of the sender.
Let me say a word about that anonymity, which the writer explains his reasons for in the letter: the usual suspects and self-appointed Great Falls hall monitors screech and whine about anonymous sources on a regular basis as a way of minimizing and discrediting those sources because they don’t like what is said.
Too bad. I will continue to use credible sources, whether they are anonymous or not, to help expose some of the glaring problems in our fine city, and I am sure E-City Beat will do the same. Very often those who decry anonymous sources seem more worried about WHO is spotlighting a serious issue than the issue itself.
So, here’s the letter, agree with it or not, the writer has some important things to say.
First and foremost – Thank You for continuing to shine a light on the current situation in regards to our city government. I own a business in town, but live out of town…and therefore am not allowed to vote in any of the city elections.
My property taxes for my building…this year are $4,662.76. It should be noted that when I bought the building…it was a run-down…lot…The city fought with me on continuing the space as commercial even though it grandfathered in. They even held the project up for 30 days because the city planner was on vacation and didn’t have time to get the paperwork ready for the design board. Of course the interest I paid on the money/delay was not a concern for the city. It was with the help of then mayor Mike Winters that the city finally backed off and allowed me to proceed. I put in $250,000 in improvements and upgrades to the lot, of which the city did not contribute a single dollar. The money is entirely out of pocket and through personal loans…
The first year that I was in the building I had a driver park his pickup on my grass area in front of the building. I called 911 and was told it was private property and therefore they could not do anything about it. At the time I thought it was a drunk driver…which is neither here nor there, the fact that the city wouldn’t respond is the issue.
This summer I saw my water bill double. I called the city to inquire and was told the rates increase in the summer. Ok, I said, but why did my sewer double? I was told for commercial properties that the sewer is based on the water usage. The more water I use, the more they assume I am using for the sewer. I explained that the extra water usage is for irrigation of the grass that the city required. I was told if I want to put in a meter on the sewer at my own expense the city might be willing to use that number to create my bill.
Now today I received the bill for my “city license.” Each year the fire department stops by my building (as they do all commercial buildings) and inspects it. For this inspection I am given a city license. That is something else that continues to increase. I do not remember what the cost was in 2012/13, although I am thinking it was around $75.00. In 2017 it went to $85 and then this year and next it is up to $98.00.
I don’t drink lattes, I drink Folgers, so the $13 increase is about 26-30 cups of coffee to me. I am not against the parks, or the school or the kids or the …………I just am to the point that I can’t take much more. I am contributing to a lot of people’s retirement through my taxes, except my own. I am paying for a lot of people’s expenses through my taxes, etc.
These are a few of things that I am beyond frustrated with, something I know you share in feeling! I ask to be left out of the public debate as a business person I cannot afford to be targeted and vilified. The purpose of this letter is to say Thank You! You are on the right track when you expose the corruption and incompetence that we see on a daily basis.
Thank you for your time!”
In conclusion I would only add that I hear the exact same issues come up time and time again here in Great Falls. And while I do believe our city departments and personnel are for the most part good hardworking people and that some progress has been made over the years, we still have a lot to do when it comes to making Great Falls business friendly and ready for development.
Unfortunately, I can’t say our current city commission is helping in that regard. On the contrary, Kelly, Houck, Bronson, Moe and Robinson have proven to be ineffectual, without vision and incompetent at best and dishonest, self-serving and steeped in cronyism at worst.
More to come on that. Much more.