Last week the Great Falls City Commission voted 4-0 (Mayor Kelly was not present) to accept the City Manager’s FY24 budget which includes adopting the proposed total allowable property tax increase of 4.38%.
The approved proposal includes the 1.92% permissive medical levy and the 2.46% inflationary factor increases.
Those increases would equate to the following for Great Falls homeowners:
- $100,00 home – $10.51 annually or 88 cents per month.
- $200,00 home – $21.02 annually or $1.25 per month.
- $300,00 home – $31.53 annually or $2.63 per month.
The numbers could vary slightly either up or down depending on the final total property valuation for Great Falls released in August by the Montana Department of Revenue.
The additional revenue is general fund revenue to pay for the increasing cost, due mostly to inflation, of providing public safety – police, fire etc. – and for the 8% increase in city employee health insurance premiums.
Over 70% of the City workforce is under public employee union collective bargaining agreements.
I have never and will never use the ‘it’s only a latte a week’ line to justify a tax increase of any kind. It’s not up to me or anyone else to determine how much is ‘too much’ or ‘not that much’ for you.
I pay the exact same local taxes as everyone else in my hometown of Great Falls and I rely on the exact same city services as everyone else here, so I ‘get it’ when it comes to the seemingly endless ‘little lattes’ that add up over time from every single direction.
But I also want to live in a safe, clean, modern community with an appropriate level of public services – and that’s not free.
The times they are a changin’ in Montana and we can no longer rely solely on property taxes to pay for every school district, county, and city service being provided to citizens.
The solution, in my opinion, is state tax reform and I urge every Great Falls citizen to contact their state legislator and Governor Gianforte and ask them to make tax reform THE top priority for Montana starting now.