Regardless of the pandemic, neighborhood getting ready to renaissance ~ Missoula Present
Housing, fairness and the economic system had been widespread themes on Monday as metropolis and county leaders examined the state of the neighborhood, saying it was robust however provided room for development.
The annual occasion, hosted by the Metropolis Membership Missoula, targeted on questions across the pandemic, its impacts and the way Missoula will emerge within the coming months.
The county has spent round $ 20 million to struggle the pandemic and its related prices, together with misplaced jobs and revenue. However the metropolis and county mixed are anticipated to obtain round $ 35 million from the latest US bailout – funding that opens up new prospects.
Missoula Mayor John Engen spoke about some potential makes use of of the funding.
“Not solely will this permit us to maintain property taxes flat over the subsequent two years, however it’s going to additionally permit us to offer help and provide progressive packages across the response to psychological well being crises, homelessness. and the housing disaster, ”Engen mentioned. “Housing in all probability stays the highest precedence within the metropolis of Missoula.”
Just like the county, metropolis leaders have described the previous 12 months as a tough one. But alongside the way in which, the native authorities shifted gears and maintained core features, utilized new applied sciences to host public conferences, and addressed inner logistical points in the beginning of the pandemic.
However Engen mentioned the challenges transcend the pandemic alone and embrace social, electoral and political unrest. He mentioned the neighborhood made their commitments, however got here out intact and now confronted new alternatives, from strengthening the town’s infrastructure to constructing a stronger business sector.
“We’re perched on what I name a Missoula renaissance,” Engen mentioned. “We’ll proceed to offer these fundamental providers all through the day.”
Whereas some referred to as on the town final 12 months to “defund” the police, Engen mentioned the town had as an alternative elevated the police funds to enhance officer coaching within the areas of de-escalation, psychological sickness and passionate interventions.
These investments went past the division and included the town’s fireplace division and the cellular disaster response group created to succeed in these in want of fast assist.
“We acknowledge that the federal authorities has moved away from this and that native governments must construct the infrastructure round this social security internet and supply the providers that had been as soon as the area of those authorities entities,” Engen mentioned. “We’ll proceed to offer important providers offered by the town of Missoula, however we’ll do extra sooner or later.”
Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier additionally spoke concerning the challenges of the previous 12 months and the alternatives forward.
The state of the neighborhood “is powerful, however oh so fragile,” he mentioned.
“Housing clearly stays an enormous problem for our neighborhood, which is why we employed a housing coordinator and began the method of creating a housing plan for the county,” mentioned Strohmaier. “As a result of we did not simply hit the pause button through the pandemic, we’re able to step on the accelerator on this flip.”
The county continues to deal with quite a few ongoing plans, together with Mullan area infrastructure, up to date zoning codes, a brand new meals coverage advisory board and coexistence with fireplace. Local weather change has not abated, Strohmaier added, and the county’s dedication to assuaging the disaster has not waned both.
Strohmaier mentioned the county can be looking for to interrupt down political and ideological divisions and, like the town, to place equity on the forefront of native selections.
“Justice, fairness, variety and inclusion have to be on the heart of every part we do on this county, however it’s an aspiration that we’ve got not but absolutely realized,” he mentioned. declared. “We created a brand new neighborhood justice service and earlier this 12 months we employed our first Range Coordinator. We’re even reassessing how dry procurement insurance policies could be inspired to advertise equity. “