ICYMI: If you want to see some talented GLA activists in action, here are some highlights of their efforts to advocate for a society of equal rights and mutual benefit at a Missoula City Council Meeting in late August.
The issue was a proposal by the mayor and council to make a “one-time” dip into Tax Increment Financing funds, totaling $750,000. The city’s new budget proposed more than $6.5 million in spending, a $3.8 million increase over the previous year’s budget. On top of that, the city proposed raising property taxes by 3.85 percent.
This isn’t the first time the Missoula City Council has tried something like this. They’ve been sticking taxpayers with higher and higher tax bills over the years for “nice to have” — rather than “need to have” — pet projects, like a free bus system and even a water park.
Needless to say, people have had enough of higher taxes for unnecessary “feel good” projects that the council demanded everyone else pay for. In response, 16 GLA graduates worked independently together by organizing and attending the meeting and shared their thoughts on the council’s out-of-control spending addiction.
Ethan Holmes, a Level 2, Certified Community Mobilizer Graduate, spoke before the council on how hard the city’s tax increases have been hitting him.
“When I first moved here, I could barely afford to live here, now I’m even closer to the brink of having to leave the city … because of things like rising property taxes,” he said. “A lot of folks like myself who do rent here in the city — when you’re already working two jobs, going to school, trying to make ends meet, anything like that — it certainly doesn’t help.”
While Ethan loves Missoula, he said he would likely have to find a less expensive city to move to when he graduates.
“I was fooled once when I came here, thinking the pattern of rising taxes wouldn’t continue — and I think I’m here tonight, like many other folks, because I don’t want to get fooled twice, and see that happen again and again and again.”
Ed Lesofski, a Certified Community Mobilizer Graduate and a veteran who provides counseling and crisis intervention to veterans through the Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research, said he was disappointed that the city could spend so much on non-essential projects — like a water park — and neglect more essential programs the city could assist.
While the council steamrolled along with the tax hikes and spending increases they wanted, GLA activists were able to have their voices heard, leveraging the tools of storytelling, social media and local media — a writer for The Missoulian, a local newspaper, was present — among other methods.
These GLA graduates demonstrated the real power of citizens coming together, voicing their concerns and having their perspectives heard. From the Missoula City Council meeting, it’s clear that activists don’t always win, even when they have the numbers on their side. But advocating for liberty is more than votes — it involves shifting the tide to the side of liberty.
To see that principle in action, watch the city council meeting.