At the State of Missoula event this week, the discussion of local taxes was conducted by Patrick Barkey, Director of the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

In his presentation, Barkey addressed the capacity of the citizens of Missoula to pay for all the things that people want in their community.

"I presented some information about how tax burdens in Missoula compare to other areas of the state," Barkey said. "When it comes to taxes, Missoula tends to punch a little bit above its weight when it comes to spending percapita, while it punches a little bit below its weight in terms of the strength of its tax base.As a result of those two things, Missoula tends to have higher tax rates than many other communities."

Barkey said the issue of property taxes has many variables, but he spoke specifically about the limits Missoula faces to pay for the improvements it wants.

"The upshot of my comments was that the capacity of Missoula to pay for things is not limitless, and at the moment, Missoula's taxes, while not high by national standards, are pushing up there in terms of their rankings across the state," he said. "I think the one thing you can say that is unambiguously true and completely apolitical, is that growth in the tax base, i.e. growth in general, is something that would help pay for everyone's wish list if people wanted to do that."

Patrick Barkey, Director of the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research.