Written by Andrew Speer ~ Polson
Heart and Soul supporters have their focused agenda. If someone does not fall in line with their program, their response is to shut them down and trash them. It is evident in recent comments found on Polson Heart & Soul Truth Facebook page by Richard Alan Smith and Ron Bic. The comments were clearly crude, argumentative, and hate filled.
We are advocates for the Polson Taxpayer. We believe that government should honor its obligation to maintain the city infrastructure and minimize taxes and regulations for its citizens. We do not believe any small special interest group should hijack taxpayer money for their pet projects. We believe that with lower taxes and minimum regulation, our city could thrive again. We love Polson and don’t wish to see it destroyed or bankrupted.
Here are some of the facts that need to be presented:
Polson is struggling financially. Many retail stores are vacant. We have lost some of our tax base in residential and commercial areas and we are threatened to lose a major source of taxes, over a million yearly, after the Kerr Dam ownership is transferred to the tribe. They will not be obligated to pay taxes. Meanwhile, many taxpayers are struggling to make their bills. The food bank is busy helping the 28% of residents who are below the poverty level.
At the Polson City Council planning workshops each department head is asking for more hired help, more equipment, and more money to run their department. Polson’s sewage facility is in poor shape. They have been fined by the EPA for being out of compliance. The remedy will require an estimated 20 to 30 million dollar improvement. Our water superintendent, Tony Porrazzo, stated that “the numbers are scary.” This amount of money will not include additional enclosures and additional help to run the facility and meet the ever-increasing EPA regulations.
The water system is inadequate to provide the water required for Polson, per the engineers. Pipes need replacement, staff needs to be increased and another well needs to be drilled and incorporated into the system.
The Fire department is looking for 2 new stations and new equipment. Though they operate with a large staff of volunteers, to equip each man is an expensive operation.
The Police department wants more office space (they work out of one office inside city hall), more officers, more equipment and more vehicles. The Parks department manager has complained that she does not have enough staff to adequately do her job. She too is looking for more equipment.
The street department is overwhelmed with the street maintenance. Streets, sidewalks and curbs in most areas of towns are an embarrassment. The most common complaint in Polson is that the streets need to be repaired and maintained. One huge problem is that the original base was never developed and it will take millions of dollars just to do a short stretch of residential or city road.
City Hall needs upgrades, but is really looking for a brand new building in the future. The Polson High School is in the midst of a renovation to the cost of 2.3 million dollars. At a recent presentation at a city council meeting, there was an indication that other projects need to be addressed in the near future.
So, what is the “Heart and Soul” (Greater Polson Community Foundation and Envision Polson) solution? Build more bike and walking paths to fulfill their “wishes.” They are also working behind the scene assisting in increased regulations for Polson. Under the direction of the Orton Family Foundation, the objective has always been land planning and regulations. Orton funds and advises the “Heart and Soul” project and they are a major advocate of paths and trails and regulations. If they are really concerned about the community they should reevaluate their priorities and help the struggling taxpayer.