City beginning budget process

The City of Great Falls is beginning its budget discussion during a May 2 work session.

City staff are scheduled to present a budget introduction to City Commissioners for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Anticipated drivers for the coming budget include the general fund balance dropping below the 22 percent recommended minimum policy; COVID recovery; potential legislative impacts; significantly increased electricity costs; labor union negotiations; a preliminary 8 percent increase in health insurance costs; the COPS grant with $74,000 to be paid from the general fund in the upcoming budget year; and additional legal staff due to the additional Municipal Court judge, according to staff.

City proposing utility increases

This year, the city used COVID relief dollars and fund balances to cover shortfalls, but those funds will run out, staff has said during recent budget years.

The city estimates $400,000 in newly taxable revenue. That’s the conservative estimate by city staff, but the actual number won’t be known until the city receives certified taxable values from the Montana Department of Revenue in August.

Last year, that number was $352,303.

City Commission approves budget, intent to raise taxes [2022]

If the commission were to take the full tax increase its allowed under state law, that would equate to an estimated $451,129 in new revenue.

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Municipal governments are limited by state law on how much they can raise taxes annually and the rate is half of the three year average rate of inflation. That typically doesn’t generate much in terms of new tax revenue for the city, but as the national inflation levels rise, those figures could also increase, staff said during last summer’s budget process.

City budget: Key things to know [2022]

The city can also use the permissive medical levy to cover health insurance costs and staff estimates that could generate $300,000 in revenue for the upcoming year.

The city did not take the inflationary factor or permissive medical levy in 2020 or 2021, but did use those revenue tools last year.

Commissioners will begin the budget discussion during the May 2 work session at 5:30 p.m. at the Civic Center.

The current budget schedule is:

  • departments present their budget request to the city manager the week of June 12
  • city manager transmits the proposed budget to commissioners the week of June 26
  • commissioners will be asked to set the budget public hearing during their July 5 meeting
  • budget public hearing is scheduled for July 18
  • commissioners will be asked to adopt the tax levy during their Aug. 15 meeting

The city has an online budget simulator tool that residents can use to learn about the budget and participate in the budget process.

Interactive budget tool gives citizens more information on what taxes support [2019]

The simulator is currently displaying the adopted budget for this year, which runs July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

The budget simulator is available here.