These are some crazy numbers when you look at how much these Montana cities and counties have grown their budgets in the past few years. Look, Bozeman is growing. Billings is growing. Missoula is growing. Kalispell is growing. We get it. But why are city budgets growing even more astronomically?

In case you missed it, the Frontier Institute is a free-market think tank here in Montana. They recently put out a report looking at the growth in city and county budgets. We spoke with Frontier Institute CEO Kendall Cotton.

Cotton: On everyone's mind is this question of rising property taxes, and how can we enact property tax relief. And, you know, really the central theme of the report that we put out is that tax relief starts with fiscal responsibility. And while you know a lot of Montanans are tightening their belts amid the skyrocketing property taxes, inflation, all of the increases in gas prices and groceries- our local governments, many of them, are on a spending spree.

Here's a screenshot from the Frontier Institute report that shows how much key cities in Montana have grown their city budgets. It also shows how much more these cities increased their budgets beyond just simply population growth and inflation.

Credit Frontier Institute report screenshot "The 2023 Real Local Budgets"
Credit Frontier Institute report screenshot "The 2023 Real Local Budgets"

Cotton: What does a conservative budget actually look like? Well, in practice, it looks like limiting the growth of spending to keep it in line with what taxpayers can actually afford...from our analysis, a lot of the major local government budgets across the state have far exceeded this measure of population growth plus inflation over the last decade, and it's really left taxpayers in these local areas on the hook for literally millions in excessive spending.

Here's the link for the full report titled "The 2023 Real Local Budgets."

Full audio with Kendall Cotton on the statewide radio show "Montana Talks with Aaron Flint:"

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