BUTTE – People in Butte have been griping about the roads for years. But if they want better roads, they’re going to have to pay.
“Roads have been the number one concern of the constituents of Butte-Silver Bow for a long time and there’s just not been enough money to do it. If you want to fix the roads we need money and this is what it’s going to take,” said Butte District 6 Commissioner Jim Fisher.
What it will take is a proposed new street maintenance tax for property owners throughout the Butter-Silver Bow County. Butte currently has four tax districts for road maintenance within the city, but this proposal would encompass the entire county and charge all property owners a flat yearly fee.
“The fee the first year will be about $74, then the next will go up a little higher to about $87 and then up to $107,” Fisher said.
The fee will raise about $1.5 million annually to go to improve roads within the city of Butte. Large property owners like Silver Bow Property Management don’t like new taxes but agree something needs to be done.
“The roads aren’t going to fix themselves without additional money. Our history of the way we are going is clearly not going to cut it, we need to do something different and nothing’s free,” said Robert Edwards of Silver Bow Property Management.
Some property owners, especially those that own multiple properties, may not find this payment solution fair, but still the city believes this is the most equitable way to pay for the future maintenance of the city’s roads.
“Everyone has to drive to work, everyone has to drive to the grocery store or the doctor or whatever and when you have to do that you’re using our roads. So I understand this isn’t fair and equitable to everyone, but it’s the most fair and equitable plan we could come up with,” Fisher said.
If approved by the Council of Commissioners, the city could upgrade between four to five miles of street each year. A public hearing on this proposal will be held Wednesday during the Council of Commissioner’s meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Butte Courthouse.