The mayor's race in Missoula seems an ideal opportunity for a discussion of how we govern ourselves at the local level.
To many of us, local government seems expensive, inefficient, inept and authoritarian. And we are suspicious of our leaders. Local governments in Montana fund their activities with property taxes because income taxes are the purview of state and federal authorities and we consistently refuse to approve a general sales tax.
What do local government leaders and realtors have in common? They like higher property values. For realtors it means larger commissions, for local government leaders it means larger tax collections to fund their activities. And they both like growth and development. For residents and businesspeople it means a continuing spiral of higher home costs and business expenses.
It's fairly obvious we're not going to shrink government in western Montana by reducing and restricting services, so perhaps the candidates should discuss how we lower costs. An obvious way: streamline services and eliminate duplication. Consolidate the city and county governments in Missoula County. One road, one fire, one police department; the list goes on. Deliver services for considerably less and give us taxpayers some relief. Sounds like the ghost of Rob Natelson to me.