Helena Magazine

Mayor’s Corner

Published 7:14 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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I want to take a deep breath and give everyone a little update on what the city did this year to make the most out of every dollar that came in, whether it was sales tax or grant funding.

I am happy to report with the help of the City Council and our entire team working hard for you every day, the city was able to pay off old debt down to only three bonds/loan including the last little bit remaining on the Sports Complex build from years ago, the 261/17 intersection improvement and the bond that was taken out a few years back when building the high school.

Our mission as stewards of the city funding this past year was based on two strong principles of focusing on our people and investing in equipment to better our community. This year, we have filled a new headcount in the Fire Department, Police Department, Parks and Recreation and Public Works. This new added staff has been able to add tremendous value to each of these departments so they can best serve you. I must sometimes step back and pinch myself that 22,000 residents are being served by roughly 80 people that work so hard together as a team.

The second, and with equal importance, was investing in equipment to better our community. Several programs and procedures we put into place in the past year have allowed us as a city to run a more streamlined and efficient government. Making decisions that not only invest in the here and now, but for years to come by providing new equipment to all the departments rather than paying tons of money in repair and maintenance costs.

As an example, we are replacing things like a 1992 fire truck that would cost us $60,000 to $80,000 each year in repairs with one that is new, under warranty and is an investment in the safety of our community for several years to come.

We implemented a fleet management program that got us away from borrowing money to replace vehicles that are old and run down with new ones that have less maintenance costs, and we will be able to use these assets in a few years to sell and replace at a much better value to you as residents. Police cars that were from 2014 being held together by literally duct tape and zip ties costing us as a city three times more in repairs each year than they were worth.

I use these examples not because they were extreme or a rarity in our city because they are not, but to show how hard the team and Council has worked for you to do all this with no debt being added and not touching a penny of our reserve account, in which we have built up to $4.5MM.

In the next few months, you will see a couple more brand new fire trucks responding in the city, and when they get here we will finally be able to know that those trucks have been long paid for by us. The blue paint is free with every fire truck built, we made sure of that in the contracts.  I could write a billion words and talk your ear off for hours on what we accomplished this past year, but for your sake I won’t anymore in this letter. Yes, I am only limiting it to this one weekly letter today and only today.

Make sure you get out and about town supporting our Huskies in every park and stadium. Until next Wednesday, have a great rest of the week. Stay safe, buy locally, and have lots of laughs.

Together As One,