We must be wise with our tax dollars.

Updated: Mar 4

The Gazette has printed several opinions chastising our county commissioners for daring to begin conversations about the Hub, the Crisis Center, and the Montana Rescue Mission. This prompts the question, “What do we expect of our elected officials?” Simply answered, “We, the voting taxpaying resident citizens, expect our elected officials to get the best value using the limited resources available to them.”

The only way we are going to get the best value for our limited resources is if our elected officials perpetually question the status quo. It doesn’t matter what the program or expenditure is. It doesn’t matter “that it has always been done that way.” Our elected officials owe it to the voting taxpaying citizens to simply ask the question why. To explore the answer(s) to why. And to have the attitude that there is no such thing as the best way, because there can always be a better way.

It seems our commissioners are simply doing their job. Instead of chastising the commissioners we should be volunteering to objectively facilitate issues that are dear to us. For example, we might ask how many folks served by the above mentioned social services are veterans? (If there are any we need to get them out of this system and into a federal system specifically designed for veterans.) Would our safety mill funds be better served going to a veterans facility? How many of these folks are repeat customers? If so, how often do they repeat? Do these repeat customers tend to use all three facilities? Do we require these folks to walk between facilities? If yes, are they simply falling back into their daily rut in these travels? Are they leaving a trail of litter as they travel from facility to facility? How many of these folks end up being blackballed or have restraining orders at these facilities? How often are police officers called to these facilities? Objectively now, are we just enabling the lifestyle of these repeat folks or we helping them? Does traveling from facility to facility have an adverse effect on downtown businesses? Are the organizations performing any of the same services? What are the benefits of merging all three social services in one block? There are many more questions that need asked and answered to insure we are getting the best value for our very limited resources.

Just maybe there is a better way. If our commissioners don’t ask why, we will never know. Thank you commissioners for doing your job.


co-authored by:

JoeAnn Black, Coreen Glen, Stephanie Krueger, Jake Penwell, Pam Purinton,

Barbara Scheppele, TJ Smith, Tim Stark


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TJ Smith

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