The city of Great Falls made the initial payment in the Southern Montana Electric bankruptcy settlement to the tune of $2.5 million using existing funds. Now they need to come up with $750,000 before December 30th. Adding to that stress, the state increased its retirement pension contribution for employees and the city is still honoring its police award grant.
The city manger is proposing a budget in which no department was left untouched. Most of the changes are internal. They hoped to avoid layoffs entirely, but some seasonal positions with Park and Recreation are on the chopping block. The city will defer hiring temporarily and possibly raise taxes. City Manager, Greg Doyon, explains, "there's 2 areas in the budget where we're proposing to increase taxes. The first one is the inflationary factor which is about $130,000 and the permissive medical levy which is $168,000".
Mayor Michael Winters says, "we need to stop looking back over our shoulder and start looking to our future and I believe now is the time for the public to step up and help out". He urges Great Falls residents to attend tonight's commission meeting to hear the proposed budget.
The commission will schedule a public hearing on the budget before a decision is made.