COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MINUTES

City Council Chambers

140 West Pine Street

Missoula, Montana

April 11, 2018, 3:30 PM

 

 

 

I.

Administrative Business

 

A

Roll Call --

History

 

Members present:

Stacie M. Anderson, Julie Armstrong, Mirtha Becerra, John DiBari, Heather Harp, Jordan Hess, Gwen Jones, Julie Merritt, Jesse L. Ramos, Bryan von Lossberg, Heidi West

 

Members absent:

Michelle Cares

 

Others present:

Kirsten Hands, Deputy City Clerk

 

 

II.

Public Comment on Items not Listed

 

None

 

 

 

III.

Regular Agenda

 

A

Citizen Survey Results --Dale Bickell

History

 

von Lossberg Ė Iím going to turn this over to Mayor Engen to introduce.

 

 

Mayor Engen - Today we are going to show the results of a survey we commissioned regarding our budget.  We will be spending some time with staff on a strategic goal session.  My biggest take away is that 80% of Missoula residents enjoy living here. 

Jessica Miller - Mayor's Office.  We contracted with the social science research lab for this report.  Dr. Rinfret in the Master of Public Administration program and Chuck Harris in the social science lab oversaw this survey research project. The survey consisted of 14 questions and was administered to registered voters living in the City of Missoula.  There were a total of 594 respondents.  The margin of error was +/- 4%.  Demographically the sample was representative of Missoula residents.  The number one issue facing respondents is housing at 23.5% of respondents.  Approximately 80% of respondents said that it is excellent or good to live in Missoula.  The survey found that quality of life varied with income and home ownership.  Respondents were asked to rate various services in Missoula, how important they are and what their satisfaction with them are. They were also asked how supportive they would be of increasing taxes specifically in regards to a tax on tourism. 

von Lossberg - Can I look at the last slide?  Do we have a way to compare our public safety numbers with other communities?

Sara Rinfret - We can do that but it would require further research. 

von Lossberg - We have done survey work in the past...  I like to see trends overtime especially with satisfaction overtime. 

Sara Rinfret - We could do that.

 

 

West - My question is about the 3% tax.  Can we use these results to inform what our lobbyists will advocate for in the next legislative session?

Mayor Engen - Missoula has always been supportive of a local option tax on the ballot.  We are looking for new revenue.  Other communitiesí are finding this in local option taxes. 

Hess - I think that it is incredible that the baseline support for the tourism tax is that high.  I hope other cities come on board with that as well.  Can you talk about the geographic distribution?

Shane St. Onge, graduate student in MPA program -  I did the geocoding for the mapping with another student Sam Scott.   We could see pockets of satisfied and dissatisfied residents in the city.

Becerra - Why 594 respondents?

 

 

Sara Rinfret - When you do public opinion research that is a standard in order to generalize the results. 

Becerra - The 600 is considered standard?

 

 

Sara Rinfret - Yes, State wide.

 

 

Jones - My question is about the voter turnout of 80%.  I think the real number at the last election was 40%.

Sara Rinfret - This is consistent with literature on voter behavior, people always say they vote.

 

 

Harp - About the resort tax, Iím blown away by what can be funded with this money in communities.  The resort tax gets limited by community size.  Mayor are you looking more at a local option tax?

Mayor - If the legislature removed the cap we would go for it.

 

 

Harp - We have concerns with reductions in social safety net programs, this is being passed on to local communities and we don't have the money to cover it. 

von Lossberg - I agree, but letís focus on questions.

 

 

DiBari - Tourists pay taxes when they are here, residents pay then all of the time.  My question is that they are satisfied with fire service but they are willing to pay more money for it when they are currently satisfied.  My question is did you give any background on these services to the respondents so they understood what they were being asked.

Jessica Miller - The full questions are in the report. We did elaborate on street maintenance but not on other services.

 

 

DiBari - That means we need to drill into this more.

 

 

DiBari - My questions is on the maps Shane made.  Did you do any clustering?

Sara Rinfret - We used chi squared.  Beyond that was out of the scope of what we were doing.

DiBari - Did you do other statistics?

 

 

Sara Rinfret - We did but it didnít' change the significance.

 

 

Dale Bickell, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Missoula - There are a couple of maps in there that show the areas that are statistically significant. 

DiBari - Just because it looks like a cluster doesn't mean it is.

 

 

Dale Bickell - That one was tested.

 

 

Ramos - On the local property taxes...  What would we be looking at as a far as a reductions with the local option tax.

Mayor Engen -† We don't know.

 

 

Ramos - What percentage of our GDP comes from tourism? What other constraints has the legislature put on us?

Mayor Engen - Traditionally sales tax is something that republicans have advocated for and the divide between democrats and republicans has kept it in the ballot box.  With increasing the population cap on local option sales tax, if local communities have that, it takes the wind out the sales for a State sales tax.  I cannot answer the question with GDP.

Jessica Miller - I donít have the exact number for our GDP.  BBER at the university has some data.  I have some data at the office...  It is hard to say how much of our economy comes from tourism.  There are numbers on Griz football, and there is a report that has number on non-resident income. 

von Lossberg - I was thinking along the same lines.

 

 

Mayor Engen - We have informal numbers in the millions of dollars.

 

 

Stacie Andersen - I'm happy to see people are happy to live here.  Dale, can you clarify what we are going to do with this data?

von Lossberg - Let's hold that.

 

 

Jessica Miller - I can get that to you.

 

 

Armstrong - Can I get the SPSS file of the raw data?

 

 

Sara Rinfret - Yes, we can get that to you.

 

 

Dale - We are going to be holding a strategic planning session where we will be using this information.  We have done a good job of building the mission and value statements.  The session will discuss the prioritization of goals.  We are planning on doing a budget workshop to get at the questions John DiBari asked.  We need the community to tell us why fire service is important and we can get an idea of how people look at things as our point-of-view may be different. 

Mayor Engen - While the tourism tax is interesting, I donít think that should be the biggest take away here.  We have some statistically valid sense of what is important to the community.  I will pay attention to street and roads and housing.  We will try and address dissatisfaction in our budget planning.  Just because people said that they would pay more doesn't mean we are raising taxes.  We are concentrating a lot of effort on housing. If we put money in Streets are we seeing satisfaction change the next time we do this?

von Lossberg - This is the first time we have seen this data.  We are kicking around the value of going back to streets maintenance and seeing what was accomplished.   The condition assessment work is important we funded that.  Public Comment?

Barb Neilan, Director Destination Missoula - I wanted to comment on taxing tourism activities.  There wasn't any context in the questions that were asked.  A lot of people don't know that there currently are taxes on tourism. We have a 7% bed tax and 4% car rental tax.  The 4% on cars does not go to tourism.  It goes to the state general fund. The 7% bed tax goes to tourism.  Tourism is the largest industry in our state.  It has a huge impact in our city.  What people donít know is what we are doing with that money.  Since the TBID has been in place we have brought in $23.8 million into this community. We have brought in new airlines and flights.  We give $50,000 a year in air guarantees.  Most people don't know this exists.  It is easy to say to them would you support something that tourists would pay for.  My concern is that we are not giving people the full context.  Where people are spending money when they come here is on gas and restaurants and hotels. My concern is that we keep going back to the same well to shoulder the burden rather than spreading it across the community.  I would like some transparency about what is being asked with these questions and I would like it if the tourism industry would be asked to come to the table and consult.

von Lossberg - I think there was full transparency around the survey. 

West - I think it is interesting about traditional city services we are talking about, but cities are moving away from some of these traditional rolls.  I would like to see some discussion about the future roles of cities.

Ramos - I would like to comment on what the Mayor said about funding for streets.  On housing, there is obviously a demand and I would ask for less regulation so developers can provide housing.

BVL - Thanks you.

 

 

 

IV.

Adjournment

 

4:16 PM

 

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Kirsten Hands

Deputy City Clerk