The City of Missoula is working on a new tax district proposal that would support several emergency service projects.
Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Bender says the police department needs more evidence storage and the fire department needs a new $1.2 million ladder truck, but the city’s current tax income won’t cover the expenses.
"The annual taxes that people pay to the city have historically been for operation expenses, and these are way above our normal," said Bender.
He says above normal costs were historically covered by general obligation levies, but new tax legislation has given the city other options.
“With the new legislation of special districts, we saw this as an avenue to deal with replacing these critical pieces of equipment," said Bender.
He says a proposed Public Safety and Justice District would collect about $500,000.
Missoula property owner Tamara McDermott says new taxes are rarely popular, but believes you can't skimp when it comes to emergency services.
"Nobody wants to pay more taxes. Every time the tax bill comes, I dread paying it," said McDermott. "But it's for a good cause, and when you know that the emergency crews need it for us to protect our lives, than it's worth it."
Bender emphasized that the new tax district is still in the planning stage. He says the city will present it to the city council next month, followed by a vote.
Bender says, if the council approves a new tax district, there will be a 60 day public comment period, and if at least 10% of the comments from property owners are against it, the tax district will go to the vote at the ballot box.