[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 10-17-07

Bob Jaffe bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Thu Oct 18 08:34:51 MDT 2007


This morning we started with the long absent Economic Development

At some point I was appointed to chair this subcommittee and have been
terribly remiss in pulling together a meeting. I organized this one around
a presentation of the new Tourism Business Improvement District. The TBID
is based on a new authorization from the legislature. It allows the hotels
in the community to charge a per room tax with 100% of the revenue going to
the local TBID to expend on promoting tourism. Billings is ahead of us and
just put theirs in place. Hopefully we will have ours ready by the end of
the year.

The presentation was made by Barb Nielan of the convention and visitors
bureau and Mary Muse from the Adams center at the University. We learned
that tourism in Missoula generates $283 million which accounts for $3
million in bed taxes. The state is generous enough to return $150,000 of
that to our local community for the Missoula CVB to spend to promote tourism
here. The new proposal calls for a 75 cent tax per occupied room night. We
have about 3000 rooms in Missoula. They average 60% occupancy. So that ends
up being about $500,000 per year.

I'm looking for suggestions for future Economic Development Subcommittee
topics. We hear some people complain a lot about Missoula not being a
business friendly city. I was thinking that maybe we could provide a forum
for people to come down and bitch about what the city does to inhibit
economic growth (providing that they do it in a constructive way). I would
like to see if we could identify any real issues and identify policy changes
we could work on to resolve them.

In Public Safety we discussed Transient problems downtown again. Don wanted
to take one more stab at getting support for a no panhandling zone downtown.
Officer Dick Lewis reiterated what chief Wickman told us a few weeks ago.
Fines and arrest are a lousy deterrent for destitute street people. We
don't want to take up precious jail space with them and there is nowhere
else to send them. Banning the activity in a certain area may just drive
them to other areas where they are harder to keep an eye on.

Basically he was saying that the preference of the police department and the
administration is to set up a task force of the various stake holders and
work on some solutions. We really need some services and places for people
to go who are not sober enough for the Pov. This process has some momentum
behind it and sounds like it will move forward.

In conservation we discussed a proposal to apply for a grant from the Coca
Cola company for recycling bins to place on Higgins Avenue. We are looking
at getting 25 of them. The problem is how to pay to get them emptied. We
currently contract with Allied Waste to empty the other street trash pails.
We need to check with them to see what they will charge. Missoula Valley
Recycle offered to do it for $5/ can /pickup. If we do it each week that
would be $260/year/can. We were thinking maybe we could get businesses to
sponsor a can and maybe get some advertising rights on it. We voted to
support the effort and the Greenhouse Gas committee is looking into the

In PAZ things started to get interesting. We are looking at an annexation,
zoning, and subdivision for a 14 unit project on 3.4 acres on the corner of
7th and Tower. That is probably all I can say without running afoul of open
meeting law and right to know laws so I will speak generally about growth in
the Orchard Homes area instead.

The area has important local agricultural assets.

But it is an obvious place for city growth.

The comprehensive plan has conflicting advice for the area. The map shows
two per acre maximum density but the plan calls for fringe areas developing
to urban densities when infrastructure becomes available.

The neighborhood is finally organizing itself and trying to initiate a
planning effort.

OPG is also initiating an urban fringe planning effort.

My sense is that the neighborhood has not been that willing to come to terms
with the fact that growth is coming. The planning processes of the past have
ended up just calling for things to pretty much stay as they are. I'm
hoping that since the bulldozers are in the neighborhood people will be
willing to engage in a planning process that acknowledges present day
realities and needs for growth. Planned growth will be better than eating up
the whole area three acres at a time.

I would like to see that planning process get ahead of the subdivisions.

In public works we considered an extension of the sewer service boundary out
at the Wye. The boundary currently runs along Waldo lane which is to the
west of 93 just past the Wye. There is a property owner adjacent to the
line who wants us to extend the boundary around his piece. A number of
council members expressed concern with expanding the sewer service to
unzoned land even further away from town with no clear plan as to what was
going to happen out there. The motion failed with only Jack and I think one
other person supporting it. This was a bit of a surprise. I went into the
discussion expecting to vote for it but was swayed by the debate. There was
definitely a more conservative attitude in the room and a sentiment that we
want to tighten up our ship on what we are doing about growth.

Next we had a working session on Hillview Way again. We spent most of the
time talking about the SID deferral program. The discussion moved in a new
direction with a request to change the current proposal where the large land
owners have to pay when they sell or subdivide their property, to one where
the fee would be applied to new units when they are built. It is all pretty
much the same thing but the timing on when the deferral gets paid is
different. The hope was that this will make it more palatable to the
property owners since the payments will be directly and proportionally tied
to development rather than just sale of the land. We'll see. I think we have
a lot more work to do before this thing is ready to go to a vote.

Thanks for your interest,

Bob Jaffe

Missoula City Council, Ward 3

bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us


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