City commission begins review of crime task force recommendations

Great Falls Police Chief Jeff Newton reorganized the Crime Task Force’s recommendations into three categories that were presented to the commission during their Tuesday night working session.

The recommendations, which were voted on by the task force last fall, were organized into three categories:A. Recommendations that can be supported within the current GFPD budgetB. Recommendations that will impact the current GFPDC budget. Unfunded Recommendations

During the panel’s discussion of the recommendations, Commissioner Eric Hinebaugh asked about one of the recommendations emphasizing that the city “use marijuana tax revenues to support and fund public safety” and how this would work given the other recommendation listed which reads “to prevent the future proliferation of recreational marijuana shops in GF.

City Manager Greg Doyon explained that the city’s current zoning laws do not allow the sale of marijuana.

“Until the Commission says, ‘Go ahead and watch this expansion effort,’ we will maintain the position that this is a federally controlled drug under our zoning that is not allowed. “, said Doyon. “We will be challenged at some point.”

Doyon said the commission would be able to determine, through zoning rules, where marijuana businesses can locate.

Mayor Bob Kelly clarified that the question under consideration in terms of the task force’s recommendations is more about whether the city begins to collect revenue from the sale of marijuana, would the commission allocate those funds to public safety.

Ultimately, the commissioners decided to delay making decisions on which recommendations to keep and which to drop. The review of the Crime Task Force recommendations has been added to the list of working session topics for the upcoming February 12 and March 2 sessions.

At the top of the working session was an overview of the quarterly financial review conducted by Chief Financial Officer Melissa Kinzler and Deputy Chief Financial Officer Kirsten Myre. They discussed the end of fiscal 2021, which ended in July last year, and the first half of fiscal 2022.

Kinzler discussed “funds needing attention” in fiscal 2022, which included:

  • Golf course
  • swimming pools
  • Car park
  • Civic Center Events
  • Recreation
  • Multi-Sports
  • Community planning and development

Kinzler said a lot of those funds needed support before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has taken a big dent in fundraising efforts like events and tournaments that have been canceled. The presentation included a list of departments that could be replenished using CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) funds.

Funds recommended by the city's finance department to receive federal CARES Act dollars.

Doyon said funds will likely continue to struggle even with these additional funds.

“The likelihood that those funds can get back what they lost or the likelihood that the city’s general fund will rehabilitate it through a grant, it’s just not there,” Doyon said.

He said the city will need to discuss ways to deal with losses on the road.

“We just want to make sure that when we have conversations about other commission priorities, other city needs, we understand that we’re allocating our resources in a certain way,” he said. “And so we wonder why maybe we don’t have enough for other types of services. It’s because we provide funding here, which is good.

Watch the full presentation in the working session agenda folder.

Aurora J. William