Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - With an overall annual budget of just over $200 million, City Finance Director Leigh Griffing definitely has her finger on the financial pulse of Missoula.

Griffing appeared on the City Talk segment of Talk Back on Friday and began by answering my question; just how much is the City of Missoula budget?

Our Total Missoula City Budget is just over $200 per Year

“The city budget is a bit over $200 million and this includes all city activities,” began Griffing. “This is not just our general fund, not just our police and fire. This is also our parking commission, and this is our redevelopment agency. So while that number seems pretty big, a lot of it are pieces that aren't necessarily funded by taxes.”

City Communications Director Ginny Merriam joined the conversation by describing the budget process as ‘budgeting to our values’.

'We are Budgeting to our Values' says Communications Director

“We are constantly talking with people that we serve about what our values are,” said Merriam. “We know what's important to people in Missoula. For instance, people value their parks. People value public safety probably more than anything else, and so that is a big part of the budget, and the elected officials are very good at considering that as they move through the budget process, so we stay in tune with what we hear from people as we're doing other plans, and try to reflect those in the budget.”

One question asked why the needs of the fire department had not been addressed since 2008. Merriam explained.

“Police Officers we can hire one or two at a time and add them to the force slowly,” she said. “Firefighters need to be hired in groups of 20, so they're hired as a company. A new fire engine costs about $1.3 million, and it takes three years to order them. So what happens every year is that the city council is looking at a very big ask to hire an entire company and the equipment, and they have just not been able to work it in until it has become dire.”

At the close of the hour-long conversation, Griffing explained the challenge of finding funds for all the city’s needs.


Griffing Explained the Taxation Limitations faced by the City

“We do not have a sales tax,” she said. “We are not able to implement a tourist tax. A few years ago, the voters in the entire city and county of Missoula voted in a gas tax. It was just two cents per gallon and would have raised about $2 million split between the city and the county, and that was taken away by the governor and the legislature. So again, we're very constrained in the ways that we can actually raise money to pay for these things.”

Find out more about the city budget here.

Listen to the entire City Talk conversation with Leigh Griffing and Ginny Merriam by clicking here.

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Gallery Credit: Ashley