City Councilor Says Her Ward Does Not Want Shelter to Reopen
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Johnson Street Shelter is in Ward 6 of Missoula, and City Councilor Sandra Vasecka told KGVO News this week that in no way do many of the residents of her ward want the shelter to reopen even after an emergency declaration last week that proposes 2 mills to help finance its reopening.
Vasecka counted down the reasons why.
Ward 6 Sandra Vasecka says Her Constituents Don't Want the Shelter to Reopen
“Number one is that it’s in my ward and I've been getting calls and emails and text messages and people on the street telling me how frustrated they are with having that in their neighborhood,” began Vasecka. “Number two, we (already) have the money for it. We just need to prioritize what our spending is going to do. We have a lot of money in MRA (Missoula Redevelopment Agency) that could pay for it. Even if I disagree with having the shelter there, we do have the money. We just need to pick our needs versus our wants. We can't have everything. And number three, we already put it in front of the voters (with the Crisis Levy) and the voters voted it down.”
Vasecka said the city of Missoula officials claim the Crisis Levy passed in the city, but it was county voters that voted it down.
Vasecka Questioned the Mayor's Emergency Declaration
"All the people in the city voted ‘yes’, but it was just the county that overrode it and that may be true, but why did you even put it before the voters in the first place if you're going to just levy them anyway?” The voters spoke and I think that you can't just forcibly take something when the vote didn't go your way.”
Vasecka described what recently occurred in a city council meeting this week regarding the issue.
“During our Public Safety, Health and Operations meeting this (Wednesday) morning, we were discussing something that Mike Nugent put on the calendar a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “Apparently, it was basically something about asking the mayor to declare an emergency ordinance. There was also a motion to direct staff to discuss short and long term homelessness solutions and direct them to city council and put present them to the city council on a regular basis.”
Vasecka said looking back at last Friday’s announcement by Mayor Hess, she and other city councilors were caught by surprise.
Vasecka said the Mayor's Declaration was not Cleared Through the City Council
“I don't know if it was planned or if it was just a coincidence that the mayor made the announcement on Friday about declaring an emergency regarding the unhoused to issue and forcibly levy two extra mills from your property tax dollars,” she said. “None of that came through Council. That was not what this discussion was about today. Because when you want to get something in front of a committee, you have to first submit it to the chair of that committee and then they schedule a staff meeting with all the other committee chairs and figure out when they can schedule it on the calendar, so you have to do this months in advance. The emergency that the mayor declared (on Friday) did not come in front of council, we have not discussed it. It is not set in stone yet that the two extra mills are going to be levied.”