ACLU Lawsuit Brings Higher Property Taxes to Missoula
The settlement of an ACLU lawsuit against the Missoula County Detention Center is one of the reasons Missoula County taxes will be on the rise in the near future.
"There's a couple of areas that we're looking at for tax increases," said Missoula County Chief Financial Officer Andrew Czorny. "One is in the Sheriff's Department at the detention center and that is the result of an ACLU lawsuit in which the district judge handed down a settlement judgment. That is going to cost about $200,000 in fixed costs and $336,000 in ongoing costs for detention officers. The suit alleged that we weren't providing equal access to women and juveniles for outdoor recreations so we were forced to build outdoor recreation facilities for all three categories."
The ongoing $363,000 annual payments will go towards the wages of six new detention officers. Altogether those items will add up to 1.69 mills, but there is more to come.
"In addition there's been a shortfall in the Sheriff's department primarily due to salaries and some increased operational costs where they are showing a $313,000 shortfall in their budget. We're going to have to increase that by 1.75 mills."
A mill is a property tax increase. In Missoula County one mill for a $200,000 home is roughly the equivalent of $3.10.
All of these expenditures will lead to a property tax increase of around 10 dollars for a 200,000 property. Czorny says tax income for the county in the past has not been keeping up with expenses and that at least one other mill will be added and others are possible.
A public preliminary budget hearing will occur July 24, in the basement of the county administration building at 199 west pine street. The meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m.