Fire Levy Ballot Measure 2024

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Overview

The City of Missoula Fire Department has not had an increase in personnel since 2008. The city's population and calls for help have increased, while station reliability has gone down. The Missoula Fire Department relies on taxes from the general fund, which are capped under state law. The law allows us to exceed this cap if the majority of voters approve a special mill levy. City administration is asking the City Council to put a mill levy on the ballot for voters to consider in June 2024. The mill levy would fund fire and emergency services in the amount of 34 mills, raising approximately $7 million in the first year. Follow this project for updates and leave a comment or ask a question below.

Funding & Service Demands

Increased Call Volume

The City's population and emergency calls have increased, but the City has not added any Fire Department personnel since 2008. This has led to a reduction in our station reliability.

  • Calls for help increased from 5,849 in 2008 to 10,436 in 2022, a 78% increase
  • Population has increased 11.5% since 2008
  • Station reliability averages have fallen below the 90% national standard
  • Missoula’s rapid growth, especially to the west, necessitates a 6th fire company and station

Mobile Support Team

This team was established to provide for a non-law enforcement-based response for those experiencing a mental health crisis. It provides relief to both law enforcement and Fire Department resources and diverts clients from hospitals and jail. The federal dollars used to start this program are no longer available.

  • 1,016 clients served in the last 12 months
  • 1,700 case facilitation follow-up appointments
  • 277 client consultations
  • 4,124 total calls for help since its creation

Levy Amount & Investment

The City proposes to levy 34 mills, which would raise approximately $7 million per year at current mill rates. The City cannot increase the number of mills without going back to the voters. The exact dollar amount raised each year will fluctuate slightly based on the city's taxable values.

If the Levy Passes

  • Provides 20 additional firefighting positions to assist with current call volumes while a future site for a new station is identified
  • Permanent funding for Mobile Support Team to provide a response to people in crisis
  • Provide for an additional source of revenue for Fire Department operations that are currently funded with the City’s constrained General Fund
  • Provide for fire apparatus replacement
  • Ensure competitive firefighter wages
  • Ensure adequate funding for operations and training

If the levy passes, it will appear on tax bills in 2024. At current mill rates, the 34 mills would cost approximately $46 per year per $100,000 of assessed value for a house. Note that market value and assessed value are not the same. In the 2023 reappraisal cycle, the Department of Revenue shows that the median assessed home value in Missoula County was $413,200. The Missoula Organization of Realtors shows the median home price of $530,000 in Missoula County for 2023. A home at the median assessed value in Missoula would pay approximately $189.66 per year, or $15.80 per month. You can look up your home's assessed value on the Department of Revenue website.

If the Levy Fails

If the levy fails, the City's general fund will continue to be the only reliable, on-going funding source for fire and emergency services. That fund is limited by state law. Public safety already makes up the majority of the general fund, making it very difficult to cut back in other areas to increase funding for fire. Providing new firefighters and facilities without a dedicated funding source will likely not be possible, and our level of service would decline over time.

Getting Involved

Follow the project to stay informed, and leave comments or questions on this page. On February 28, the Public Safety, Health, and Operations committee of the City Council will consider a resolution to put the fire levy on the ballot, and the full City Council will hear the item on March 4. Residents can participate in those meetings in person or remotely and there is a public comment period in each meeting. If the City Council adopts the resolution, voters will see the levy question on their June 4 ballots.

Overview

The City of Missoula Fire Department has not had an increase in personnel since 2008. The city's population and calls for help have increased, while station reliability has gone down. The Missoula Fire Department relies on taxes from the general fund, which are capped under state law. The law allows us to exceed this cap if the majority of voters approve a special mill levy. City administration is asking the City Council to put a mill levy on the ballot for voters to consider in June 2024. The mill levy would fund fire and emergency services in the amount of 34 mills, raising approximately $7 million in the first year. Follow this project for updates and leave a comment or ask a question below.

Funding & Service Demands

Increased Call Volume

The City's population and emergency calls have increased, but the City has not added any Fire Department personnel since 2008. This has led to a reduction in our station reliability.

  • Calls for help increased from 5,849 in 2008 to 10,436 in 2022, a 78% increase
  • Population has increased 11.5% since 2008
  • Station reliability averages have fallen below the 90% national standard
  • Missoula’s rapid growth, especially to the west, necessitates a 6th fire company and station

Mobile Support Team

This team was established to provide for a non-law enforcement-based response for those experiencing a mental health crisis. It provides relief to both law enforcement and Fire Department resources and diverts clients from hospitals and jail. The federal dollars used to start this program are no longer available.

  • 1,016 clients served in the last 12 months
  • 1,700 case facilitation follow-up appointments
  • 277 client consultations
  • 4,124 total calls for help since its creation

Levy Amount & Investment

The City proposes to levy 34 mills, which would raise approximately $7 million per year at current mill rates. The City cannot increase the number of mills without going back to the voters. The exact dollar amount raised each year will fluctuate slightly based on the city's taxable values.

If the Levy Passes

  • Provides 20 additional firefighting positions to assist with current call volumes while a future site for a new station is identified
  • Permanent funding for Mobile Support Team to provide a response to people in crisis
  • Provide for an additional source of revenue for Fire Department operations that are currently funded with the City’s constrained General Fund
  • Provide for fire apparatus replacement
  • Ensure competitive firefighter wages
  • Ensure adequate funding for operations and training

If the levy passes, it will appear on tax bills in 2024. At current mill rates, the 34 mills would cost approximately $46 per year per $100,000 of assessed value for a house. Note that market value and assessed value are not the same. In the 2023 reappraisal cycle, the Department of Revenue shows that the median assessed home value in Missoula County was $413,200. The Missoula Organization of Realtors shows the median home price of $530,000 in Missoula County for 2023. A home at the median assessed value in Missoula would pay approximately $189.66 per year, or $15.80 per month. You can look up your home's assessed value on the Department of Revenue website.

If the Levy Fails

If the levy fails, the City's general fund will continue to be the only reliable, on-going funding source for fire and emergency services. That fund is limited by state law. Public safety already makes up the majority of the general fund, making it very difficult to cut back in other areas to increase funding for fire. Providing new firefighters and facilities without a dedicated funding source will likely not be possible, and our level of service would decline over time.

Getting Involved

Follow the project to stay informed, and leave comments or questions on this page. On February 28, the Public Safety, Health, and Operations committee of the City Council will consider a resolution to put the fire levy on the ballot, and the full City Council will hear the item on March 4. Residents can participate in those meetings in person or remotely and there is a public comment period in each meeting. If the City Council adopts the resolution, voters will see the levy question on their June 4 ballots.

Questions

Feel free to ask any questions about the fire levy.  Questions and answers will be visible to the public and will display your screen name.

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Page last updated: 17 May 2024, 02:05 PM