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Public safety levy proposal will go to voters on November ballot

GFPD patrol vehicle
Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 09, 2023

The last time a public safety levy was approved in Great Falls was 1969, according to the City Commission. That's when it was approved to build the four current fire stations. Now a public safety levy is being put on this fall's ballot for residents to vote on in November.

If approved, the levy would help fund operations of the Great Falls Police Department, Great Falls Fire Rescue, Great Falls City Attorney, and Municipal Court.

The Great Falls city commission voted unanimously this week to put the public safety levy on this fall's ballot. The effort to pursue a public safety levy started from findings and recommendations of the Great Falls Crime Task Force that was created back in 2021, according to a press release from the city.

Over the course of numerous City Commission Work Sessions in 2022 and 2023, the commission found that the city's general fund cannot sufficiently meet the service level desired by residents and decided to pursue a levy.

"We need our first responders and they need us," commissioner Susan Wolff said during the meeting. "The courts need us as well to serve everyone. I have the utmost respect for people who choose public safety as their careers."

The press release added that a public safety request back in 2009 was denied.

"We've paid a price as a community," commissioner Joe McKinney said in the meeting. "Our public safety personnel are now operating a skeleton crew. There was a time our fire department had over 100 members and now we have around 70, The police are also woefully understaffed. Many times our patrol officers are on the street with minimal backup. It's unsafe for both the police and our community."

The news release states:

If this mill levy proposition is passed, the City will be authorized to levy permanently up to 103.75 mills per year, to raise approximately $10,717,305. Based on the current taxable value of the City, the property taxes on a home with an assessed market value for tax purposes of $100,000 would increase by $140.06 per year and property taxes on a home with an assessed market value for tax purposes of $200,000 would increase by $280.11 per year.

The commission also voted 3-2 to pass a strategic informational process and community education effort regarding educating voters about the proposed levy, and said this is strictly informational, to inform voters about the proposition, and is not advocating for or against the proposition. Click here to watch video from the meeting.

Questions or comments about this article? Click here to contact Asher.


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