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Civic leaders host forum to discuss public safety levy and bond

City Leaders at the Public Safety Levy Town Hall
Posted at 10:20 PM, Sep 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-19 00:25:56-04

GREAT FALLS — The Mansfield Theater in the Great Falls Civic Center hosted the final town hall for the upcoming public safety levy and bond that will be voted on in November.

Civic leaders took the stage Monday night to hold one final discussion and Q&A on the levy.

“As we move forward, it is critically important for a police department to provide effective service to our community, which helps business, it helps growth, it helps people who want to live in our community and feel safe and have that good quality of life,” said Jeff Newton, Great Falls Police Chief.

According to the press release for the town hall event, the mills and bond will provide increased funding for an additional fire station, fire fighters, personnel, resources, and training for all Great Falls public safety departments. It would be the first time public safety funding has been passed in Great Falls since 1969.

“The current four facilities are 52 years old,” said Jeremy Jones, Great Falls Fire Rescue Chief. “They get operated in 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Since the funding in 1969, the footprint of Great Falls has grown 44%. This has caused the city to fall behind the national standard for things like response times for emergencies, according to GFFR.

The national standard response time is four minutes, meaning that a fire truck can reach anywhere in the city in four minutes or less. In Great Falls, that number is close to six minutes. In that time, structure fires can double or quadruple in size.

The town hall included audience questions, where anyone watching in person or online could share their queries with the panel. The panel took their time answering each question and reassuring the public, emphasizing that they believe this is something the community needs now more than ever.

“That’s why the timing is now, is because we want to provide that service, we’ve got growth coming,” Chief Newton said.

The vote for the levy and bond will be on the November 7 election ballot.

For more information regarding the mill levy and bond, click here.