City Commission to consider multiple assessment increases on Tuesday

The City Commission will consider several assessments during Tuesday’s meeting as part of the budget process.

Boulevard District

The Park and Recreation Department, Natural Resources – Boulevard Division is
responsible for the care and maintenance of over 15,000 street trees located within the General Boulevard District. Services provided within the District are pruning, removal, planting, and streetscape design.

The proposed increase for the Boulevard District assessment is 5 percent for fiscal year 2020, which began July 1.

City approves budget, intent to raise property taxes

The increase is proposed to cover increased costs including fuel, labor and equipment, according to the city staff report.

The last increase for the boulevard district was 3 percent for fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30.

The proposed boulevard district assessment would be $0.011433 per square foot, for a total of $405,892 and will result in an assessment of $85.75 for an average size lot of 7,500 square feet (7,500 sq. ft. x 0.011433 factor = $85.75.) This is a yearly increase of $4.08, or 5 percent, for an average lot size of 7,500 square feet, according to the city finance department.

Great Falls Boulevard District

Properties within the blue shaded area are assessed for the boulevard district. City map.

Portage Meadows

In February 1977, the city created a special improvement maintenance district to maintain the green belt of the Portage Meadows Addition.

The assessment covers the costs for materials, snow removal labor, water, mowing labor, fertilizer costs and labor, aerification labor, and tree pruning, which was part of the original planned unit development.

A 5 percent increase is being proposed for the Portage Meadows district to cover increased costs. The last increase was 7 percent for fiscal year 2019.

The proposed assessment is $0.077518 per square foot, a total of $65,252 and will result in an annual assessment of $348.91 for an average lot of 4,501 square feet (4,501 sq. ft. x 0.077518 factor = $348.91.) This is a yearly increase of $16.61, or 5 percent, for an average size lot of 4,501 square feet, according to the city finance department.

Portage Meadows district

The Portage Meadows assessment district. City map.

Park Maintenance District

No increase is proposed for the park maintenance district assessment.

The cost of the proposed improvements for the park district is $1.5 million annually for the first three years and the assessment is based on the taxable value of each parcel within the district to make the total of $1.5 million.

The city won’t receive current taxable value information from the Montana
Department of Revenue until sometime in August, so based on last year’s valuations, the
estimated annual assessment for a $100,000 market value property would be $27.42.

Lighting Districts

There are currently 27 Special Improvement Lighting Districts with about 9,429 roadway lights. The majority, 97 percent, of the roadway lights are owned by Northwestern Energy. The city pays a maintenance fee to Northwestern Energy for these lights in addition to a fee which covers the electrical transmission and distribution. The electrical supply for the street lights is currently being furnished by Energy Keepers. The remaining 3 percent of roadway lighting is city-owned.

The lighting district funds are administered by the city finance department.The purpose of the funds is to maintain the light poles and furnish electrical supply for the lighting districts throughout the year. After determining financial factors pertinent to the operation of the special improvement lighting districts, an assessment amount for the next fiscal year is calculated, budgeted and presented to the City Commissioners for approval.

The estimated assessment amount for the lighting district funds for the next fiscal year is $1,170,052.

The total assessment amount reflects an aggregate 0.5 percent increase from the prior fiscal year because of the districts that have had increased maintenance and replacement costs. But the majority of districts will not be increasing because the individual cash balances of those districts are enough to cover the operational costs.