Kalispell officials discuss upcoming budget


KALISPELL, Mont. - It's budget season for cities and counties. Local elected officials are getting together to shape and decide how much money their city will need during the upcoming year.

While most places in the Flathead are seeing budget increases, Kalispell has actually gone the other way and decreased their budget from last year.

The budget has gotten preliminary approval for $46 million, about a half a million less than last year.

Costs increase each year, but Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell says finding ways to save money is an important part of their job.

"One of the things our governing body has wanted to do over the last couple of years is really focus on trying to keep expenses at a minimum," said Russell.

The city gets just over half of its money for the general fund from property taxes. The other half comes from a variety of things like fines and license fees. In order to cut down on some of their expenses, the city looks to cut costs.

"One of the things our solid waste board is doing is looking at a program to refurbish existing garbage trucks to extend their lifespan by about four years," Russell said.

So how much savings could the city see from the program?

"We estimate that as a savings to our rate payers of over $500,000 in a 15 to 20-year time span," said Russell.

It's savings like these that could help them plan for future projects as the city continues to grow year after year.

One of the biggest items on this year's budget is the sewage interceptor on the west side of town.

"Expanding the capacity of the system, because we were coming to a situation where we were receiving a restriction in our trunk line down Meridian that had only a limited number of available units left on it. That will alleviate that problem and set us out well into the future," said Russell.

For taxpayers, the tax bill will look pretty similar to last years. But things still could change slightly.

The city will look to get final approval on their budget in late August.

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