City Adopts Budget, Mill Levies for Current Year

By Beacon Staff

Kalispell City Council approved the budget for the current fiscal year at its Tuesday night meeting, along with setting mill levies.

The city will spend $9,108,115 for its general fund, and anticipates $9,191,010 in revenue with an ending cash reserve of $309,146. The total budget of city departments operating outside the general fund will be $38,081,314. All of which leaves a total city budget of $47,189,429. A public hearing on the city budget was held June 20, at which no one spoke for or against it.

The council also voted to adopt a levy of 169.81 mills. This is expected to generate nearly $6.5 million for the city in tax revenue based on a mill value of $37,959. The total included 140.11 for the general city levy, the maximum allowed under the cap, which is set by the state Legislature. The Pool debt service general obligation bond levy will drop from 7.75 mills to 7.5 mills. The Fire Station #62 bond request is 7.0 mills, a reduction of 0.5 mills. The Health Insurance levy is 15.2 mills, down 1.02 mills from the previous year.

Despite multiple work sessions adjusting the budget over the last several months, Councilmen Tim Kluesner and Bob Hafferman said they still could not support it, and voted against it. At a time when foreclosures and layoffs continue to plague Kalispell, Kluesner said the city should have made deeper cuts.

“We just haven’t gotten down to the nitty gritty and really put a budget together that saves our taxpayers some money,” Kluesner said. “I still see a lot of those nickels and dimes that never got taken care of and I think we should have done a lot more.”

When asked by other council members what Kluesner would like to cut, or why he couldn’t support the budget after many hours of discussion on it, Kluesner hinted that perhaps job cuts were necessary, given the heavy cost of personnel to the city. A motion by Councilman Hank Olson to table the budget in order to look again at Kluesner’s list of suggested budget changes received no seconds.

New City Manager Jane Howington said she would reorganize how the city draws up its budget in a more transparent way, and instruct the council on how she planned to do that at an upcoming work session.