Missoula Rural Fire levy increase set to pass


MISSOULA, Mont. - By early Wednesday morning, Missoula Rural Fire's request for a levy increase was set to pass. Though there were ballots still to be counted, the levy led with 4,600 Yes votes to 2,128 No votes, as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"It's going to allow the fire district to maintain the level of service that we established, with the six employees that we hired through the…grant. What that does is allows us to keep two people on all of our engines during the peak business time," said Missoula Rural Fire Chief Bill Colwell.

A homeowner with a $100,000 property will see their taxes increase by roughly $13.

The money will be used to retain the employment of six EMT-firefighters hired in 2012 with a federal grant. The 2-year grant program is set to end on September 30.

In 2007, voters rejected an attempt at a mill levy increase. Fire officials attribute that rejection partly to economic hardships in the community.  Voters last approved a mill levy increase in 1992.

The district will raise roughly $440,766 a year.

The fire district runs as a mixture of volunteer and career firefighters, though it has been harder, according to officials, to recruit and retain volunteers in recent years.

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