Havre City Council re-approved the taxes rates to pay for the city’s services for the next year, with a few changes all around.
At Monday night’s meeting, the council members also raised questions about some of the fees, which all went up, except for the Bullhook maintenance costs which dropped nearly 10 percent.
The city approved a 12 percent increase in taxes to pay for street light maintenance in the city.
City Clerk Lowell Swenson said that the increase would usually amount to about $6 a year for most residents.
While discussing the change, Councilman Bob Kaul asked why the service being paid for has dropped in quality so much since NorthWestern Energy took over Montana Power Company in 2001.
“I have a little problem with us paying NorthWestern Energy for changing the lights when we don’t get the service we used to get from Montana Power, ” Kaul said. “If we’re going to pay for it, we need to get the service that goes with it. ”
Kaul went on to recall that, before the change, there used to be a local power company employee who would keep an eye on and replace the lights.
Whereas now, Kaul said, he just drove down 5th Avenue and counted 15 street lights that were either cycling or out completely.
Swenson and Mayor Tim Solomon said they would look into the problem.
The taxes to cover street maintenance in town was raised 1.6 percent, from $446,285 to $453,592. Swenson said this would translate to $3 more per year for a resident.
Council member Pam Hillery was curious about this fee and worried that it might not be enough, considering the projects the city is currently handling and needs to in the future.
“I just see this being sunk into 12th Avenue right now, ” Hillery said, referring to the city's effort to repair the pothole-filled street.
She wondered if the city was near some limit that made this increase the lightest, where others pushed double digit percentage increases.
“We are not at a peak, ” Mayor Solomon said, “but you have to balance what is reasonable with the public. ”
Swenson also added that the city would receive money from gas taxes that would go toward the streets as well.
The funds gathered for maintaining Bullhook diversion system were the only ones to lessen from last year. The amount to be raised dropped nearly 10 percent, from $112,069 last year to $101,179 this year.
Solid waste services
Garbage-collection fees, the largest of those gathered by the city, had a 9.2 percent increase approved at Monday’s council meeting, from $619,843 to $677,382.
Swenson estimated that this would translate to individuals in an additional $10 a year.