C-Falls budget to include money for new well

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The Columbia Falls City Council meets tonight to discuss its preliminary 2020 budget and various city capital improvements, including a $1.3 million project on a new well.

City Manager Susan Nicosia said the city does not have an estimate yet of the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The Columbia Falls City Council traditionally waits to determine the budget until after receiving the state’s valuations in August.

“We wait and adopt the budget when we have known numbers,” Nicosia said. She said last year’s budget was around $8 million and the city hopes to stay around that figure. The deadline to adopt the budget is in September.

Nicosia stressed that the final decision on the budget “all depends on state tax valuations and when we receive those numbers.”

Property valuations have been increasing in Columbia Falls. Lately, she said they’ve seen land value increases of 20 to 30 percent for some properties.

“We always want to make sure that we’re taxing fairly,” Nicosia said.

The preliminary budget hearing will include discussions of the street lighting district special assessment, the street maintenance district special assessment and a hearing on a permissive medical levy.

The biggest project for the upcoming fiscal year in Columbia Falls is a $1.3 million project on a new well. The city received funding from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Revolving Renewable Resource Grant and Loan Program for $125,000. The city expects to start construction on the new well next summer.

Nicosia and Director of Public Works Tyler Bradshaw will present an update at the meeting on the federal BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grant application they have been working on since April. The grant would be used for significant infrastructure improvements on sidewalks, curbs and gutters on Railroad Street, Fourth Avenue West, Seventh Street West and Thirteenth Street West.

Nicosia said they hope to do “significant transportation improvements to connect all the schools, provide safe alternative travel and for the safety of vehicular and truck traffic.”

At the meeting, the council also will recognize volunteer firefighter Mike VanHaverbeke. VanHaverbeke tested 361 fire hydrants throughout Columbia Falls and the council will show its appreciation for his contribution to the city’s safety.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at Columbia Falls City Hall, 130 Sixth St. W, Room A.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at bserbin@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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