Reading recent descriptions of the condition of the City of Helena, I expected to wake up this morning and find that the city had sunk into the ground. People listing all the woes paint an unrealistic picture. What I have learned in two years on the city commission, in spite of the many things left to do, is that Helena is in good shape. The finances of the city have been handled well, and Helena is in a relatively strong fiscal state. Planning has built reserves in many departments. Because of these reserves, the city has been able to meet some urgent needs in recent years. Most funds are designated for a specific area, and by tax and city code must be used for specific purposes. Setting priorities is the main job of the commission. Move one up the list and another falls down the list.

Streets are an ongoing concern, but every year, the city workers endeavor to meet those needs. No it isn’t perfect, but when you as individual or individuals are aware of a problem that needs to be addressed, call the Street Maintenance Division or go online to www.helenamt.gov/pw/streets-maintenance-division.html. During these difficult snowfalls, help make the city staff aware of problems. If you don’t get an answer, email me or another commissioner and I know I will work to get you a response. All funds for streets that are designated to street maintenance cannot be diverted. To do more with streets, taxes would have to be raised. The Helena community has been generous in its response to the schools and hopefully for the jail. I don’t think anyone is in the mood for a tax raise for streets.

Yes, Helena has problems, but the city is rich in its people, its environment, and the commitment of individuals to work to solve problems. One of major ways that the city is lucky in that it has the rich resources of its water from the mountains, from the river, and, when needed, from the vast water under the city. I believe as problems arise, the city will find a way to address them. So smile, things aren’t as bad as you have heard.

Ed Noonan is a Helena City Commissioner.

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