I would like to begin this message by wishing all our residents a most joyous, happy, safe and prosperous New Year. We are looking forward to a New Year with a renewed vim and vigor and opportunities of serving our residents.
Thank you to all our city employees, City Council members, and volunteers for their work and dedication to our city.
Thank you to Tom Jankowski for his eight years of service as a City Council member. Tom provided a lot of insight and common sense to issues that we worked through in city government. Particularly in areas of employee relations and understanding the value of employee relations.
I would like to welcome Lori Shaw to our city government as she takes on her new role as a Colstrip City Council member.
With the recent completion of our yearly audit a Management Discussion and Analysis is prepared for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017. This report offers a financial review and narrative overview of the financial activities of our city. It provides the financial highlights of our city’s business activities and a history comparison. Most importantly, it also gives readers an indication of the city’s financial health and the direction the city is moving toward as it relates to its financial health.
As this document is read, it’s interesting to go back in time to review our past and how far we have come in our 18 years as an incorporated city. Beginning in 1999 with newly elected officers, new employees and borrowing $60,000 to begin our city operations.
The city continues to be challenged with discussion and threats of closure Units I & II at the generating station which are destined for closure in 2022. Over 75% of the jobs within our city are directly related to the energy industry and our tax base depends upon the coal powered steam electric units within our city limits. The ever changing requirements and regulations add to the instability for industry to move forward with long term planning along with valuable research and development at local, state and national levels.
Looking toward the future the financial health of our city remains strong and continues to improve. When I look at our last year’s activities with the question, are we better or worse off the answer is we are much better off. With the continued support of our employees, city government officials and backing of our residents I am very optimistic of our city’s future.
The Management Discussion and Analysis along with the city’s financial statements are available to the public and I encourage your interest.
As a result of the recent Puget Sound Energy Rate Case settlement with their regulating commission $10,000,000 has been set aside for Colstrip community impact. The Governor has created a Colstrip Community Impact Advisory group to develop a plan to guide the disbursement of the $10,000,000. I will be part of this committee along with other state and local officials. The first meeting is scheduled for January 29, 2018 at Colstrip City Hall. The city will be hosting this first meeting.I would like to invite comments , ideas and interest from our residents into this process. I am very interested in what you have to say as this moves forward.
Recently, the city was notified Talen is protesting $246,231.80 of its first half property taxes total $359,007.43. It appears Talen is basing its protest on a disagreement of its property value assessment. The city’s portion of the protested taxes is $38,278.81. This protest of it taxes will have minimal impact on the city’s finances. It is interesting that Talen is following its predecessor (PPL Montana) and Puget Sound Energy with a tax protest. Another interesting aspect of these tax protests is that these protested taxes have had minimal impact on our city’s finances other than the additional administrative work involved.
The statutes governing protested taxes allows the taxing authority to recover adjustments to its appropriations from tax payers either through adjustment to its mills or through a special levy. I question the value or logic of what Talen is attempting to accomplish.