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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.
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To avoid a late fee
Dogs and Cats must be licensed by
February 28, 2018. Please
bring current rabies vaccination records
to Colstrip City Hall. The rabies tag given
by the veterinarian will not be sufficient
Late fees are assessed beginning
March 1, 2018.
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As you receive this quarterly newsletter, I am extremely pleased to inform everyone the Willow Avenue Project has finally come to a conclusion. Hallelujah!
Thank you to all our residents, particularly to Town Pump and those residents living in close proximity to Willow Avenue for your patience and understanding. This street project was one of the most challenging in my experience as your Mayor.
We had many issues associated with the old water and sewer lines under Willow Avenue that we did not anticipate. Valves that didn’t work, sewer lines encased in concrete, lack of correct as-built drawings—you name it. I am so thankful that we made the decision to replace all this old water and sewer infrastructure before we began the project. Thank you City Council.
I hope everyone will enjoy and take pride in this “new look” on Willow Avenue, the entrance to our city. I have very much appreciated the hard work and attention to detail our Public Works Director Bryan Swan has given this project. Also KLJ Engineering and our resident KLJ Engineer, McKenzie Butcher.
At the August 22nd City Council meeting, we had our Public Hearing and Resolution approving the 2017/18 budget. Next year will also be a challenging year as we work on new projects to upgrade infrastructure and provide services to our residents.
Our taxable valuation increased from $59,270,841 to $61,135,245. An increase of $1,864,404. This is good news, allowing us to increase our appropriation with minimal impact to our residential taxpayers. Our mills to operate the city are set as 50.56. The city is currently at the maximum mills allowed by state law. The total amount of dollars to operate and maintain the city is $9,892,140.
Some of the major capital and maintenance projects for next year include:
Pavement Overlay on the Overpass $ 250,000
Pavement Overlay on Main Street $ 500,000
Zone 3 Water Tank Replacement $2,300,000
High Service Pump Replacement (water) $ 615,000
Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades $1,990,000
We have other projects including the finalization of costs associated with Willow Avenue. If anyone would like to see the budget or have questions, we have a copy available at city hall. We would welcome any questions regarding the budget or any other activity or project the city is involved with.
The city has completed the transfer of the Street Light District from Rosebud County. The levy of 2.96 mills equates to a yearly assessment of $4.00 for a property valued at $100,000 and $6.00 for a property valued at $150,000. With this transfer and control of our Lighting District our ultimate goal will be to improve upon our street lighting for the safety and security of our city. (The LED lights on Willow Avenue are an example)
With this newsletter, I am also very pleased and take pride in announcing the City of Colstrip has received MMIA’s award for Loss Control Achievement for Montana’s third class cities in the Workers Compensation Program. Congratulations to our Colstrip city employees—you’re the “Best” and the “Safest”. We take pride in our Safety Program and our employees participation, support and involvement.