Mar 7, 2011 7:47 PM by Dan Boyce
Bozeman officials looking at next year's budget are already predicting property tax increases of up to almost $1 million.
City leaders will not be finalizing the budget until the Summer. But City Manager Chris Kukulski says taxpayers should be prepared for up to a 12 mill increase this year.
At $80,783 per mill that puts the total at $969,396. That's just to keep the city budget flat.
"(That's with) no increased costs across the board, and that's just not realistic," Kukulski said.
A big piece of the increase was present last year too. But city commissioners decided to buy that down, using $700,000 in savings.
"Why do you have that money in savings? In part for the rainy days and rougher times," Kukulski said.
Because of the recession, commissioners thought it prudent to ease the taxpayer burden. Kukulski says you can do that once, maybe even twice.
"You can't do that year after year, you can't sustainably spend $700,000 more than you bring in for revenue," he said.
Other major reasons for the increase:
-The city has hired more police officers this past year, using a levy passed by voters in 2007.
-The state Department of Revenue is still processing hundreds of property appeals from the last two years. The results of these could lower how much money the city is getting.
-The Montana Legislature is considering changes to the state entitlement share program. Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss says these changes could negatively impact local governments across the state
We'll have a report on the entitlement share portion Tuesday.
The Bozeman finance office predicts a 12 mill increase averages out to $31.80 more for the median homeowner in the city.