In a letter to the editor (Missoulian 8/25), Mr. Clayton Floyd purports once again to know what he is talking about. As has been the norm during his political history in Stevensville, where he resigned from Council and lost two attempts to be Mayor, he misstates facts and blames the wrong people for acts that they did not do.
The job of Mayor is to inform the Town Council of management tools available to address challenges the Town is facing either currently or expected in the future. The discussion of a permissive levy is one such tool. The legislature created the law in response to growing health care costs impacting the general fund budgets of towns in Montana. These costs were causing councils across Montana to cut services to citizens, layoff workers, or eliminate reasonable employee benefits, in order to salvage budgets. It allows for the increase in health care costs year to year to be levied so this burden cannot devastate general fund budgets. This year across Montana health care costs have risen 10 to 20% or more. The Town of Stevensville partnering with MMIA, the Town’s insurer, has kept the increase to 1.6%. This is an example of the good management practices employed by the Mayor and the Council in being thoughtful of your tax dollars. This year the Council is considering creating the mechanism for a permissive levy but not funding it because of the slight increase in heath care costs this year. By law the Council must hold a public hearing to fund any increase in the levy. If they adopt the levy mechanism without funding it this year, then next year they must hold a public hearing before any levy is adopted.
The longevity bonus was eliminated two mayors ago, not by this mayor as Mr. Floyd continually misstates. I did present to Council a merit-based system for pay increases. The Council adopted this structure to encourage all employees to continue to improve their training and expertise and to reward employees for doing so. Based on the employee review process, all employees qualified for a merit increase this year. Retaining superior employees is the goal of any employer. Being treated fairly, rewarding superior work performance and providing reasonable benefits are some of the ways you retain workers for the long term. For years the Town Council has approved paying 95% of the cost of health care for employees. This is through many different mayors and councils. Clearly, this is a consistent policy endorsed by the Council. This year the Council unanimously voted to cost share 50/50 in dental and vision.
Mr. Floyd continues his attack on the Stevensville Main Street Association despite supporting it during his brief tenure as a town council person. In an article in the Bitterroot Star during the 2009-2010 budget year hearings, Mr. Floyd defended the appropriation for the Main Street Association. “I think the number of volunteer hours put in by the Main Street Association is a multiplier of the money we give them,” he said. “We get more in return.” He also said if the money was not allocated and the Main Street office should close it would have a very negative impact on the business community. He said that the Town needed the kind of work being done by the organization on economic development and said, “We are not equipped to do what Main Street is doing for us.” I could not agree more. Every Council with the exception of one year has provided support to the Association for just these reasons. As for the grant mentioned in his letter, if the Main Street Association is successful, this money will be used to satisfy a match for a CDBG grant for an update to the growth policy. This policy must be updated every five years. This will save the Town $5,000 of general fund money; the very money Mr. Floyd accuses the Council and Mayor of not being good stewards of. I would suggest this is being thoughtful with your tax dollars. It is also another example of the beneficial partnership between the Town and the Main Street Association, one that past Councils have endorsed through funding.
Gene Mim Mack, Mayor
Town of Stevensville