City Council Discusses Public Safety Levy - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

City Council Discusses Public Safety Levy

Posted: Updated:
BILLINGS -

Public safety is a concern for many people. Knowing that, Billings City Council met Wednesday night for a pre-budget work session to discuss the possibility of a public safety levy and other budget items.

The levy would go to fund organizations like the Police Department and Fire Department. The last public safety levy was passed in 2004 and designed to sustain a 10-year period.

"We're at that 10 year period," said Mayor Tom Hanel. "What we're looking at is the increased need for service in the area of public safety and with that increased need does come costs."

Billings Police say they need additional revenue to keep up with the increasing costs of doing business. Officials estimate the population to increase 1.5 percent each year. Police want to add 2 more officers each year for the next five years for the patrol division to match that growth and provide the same level of service.

"Our calls for service for 2013 surpassed that of 2012," Chief Rich St. John with the Billings Police Department. "And that was 73,000 calls and we're going to surpass that. So just pure logic that more people added to the mix is going to increase the requirement for public safety."

If there is no new funding, the city will have to lay off personnel, an estimate of a 19 to 21 percent reduction in the Police Department and about a 25 percent reduction in the Fire Department by 2019.

"We don't want to have calls go unanswered," Chief St. John said. "We don't want to have increased response times and we don't want to see crime creep in here more than it already is because we don't have the assets and personnel to deal with it, so it's a community issue and the community needs to decide what level of public safety they want."

Ultimately, city leaders encourage public discussion and input.

  • LocalMore>>

  • Rain Barrels Riverfest

    Rain Barrels Riverfest

    Friday, August 22 2014 10:54 AM EDT2014-08-22 14:54:07 GMT
    Much of northwest Wyoming is a high desert, but most people don’t use rain barrels to conserve water. Cody’s Nature Conservancy wants to change that, with a rain barrel auction at its second annual Wild West Riverfest in Cody.
    Much of northwest Wyoming is a high desert, but most people don’t use rain barrels to conserve water. Cody’s Nature Conservancy wants to change that, with a rain barrel auction at its second annual Wild West Riverfest in Cody.
  • Yellowstone Lodges Stacked

    Yellowstone Lodges Stacked

    Friday, August 22 2014 10:37 AM EDT2014-08-22 14:37:17 GMT
    Can you imagine building a hotel by stacking one floor on top of another? That’s what’s happening in Yellowstone. The Park’s lodging concessionaire, Xanterra, tore out hundreds of old cabins in Canyon Village, and started construction this summer on five new lodges to replace them. The new lodges are actually modular jigsaw puzzles.
    Can you imagine building a hotel by stacking one floor on top of another? That’s what’s happening in Yellowstone. The Park’s lodging concessionaire, Xanterra, tore out hundreds of old cabins in Canyon Village, and started construction this summer on five new lodges to replace them. The new lodges are actually modular jigsaw puzzles.
  • Rising Firefighting Costs Impacts Forest Service Budget

    Rising Firefighting Costs Impacts Forest Service Budget

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:19 AM EDT2014-08-22 07:19:55 GMT
    A new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals the cost, as well as the budget, for fighting wildfires has increased over the last two decades.Within their overall budget, the U.S. Forest Service's firefighting appropriation has jumped about 25% since 1995.As a result, the U.S. Forest Service must borrow from funding reserved for the very programs that help prevent and mitigate forest fire.Climate change and drought have fueled the intensity of wildfires over the decades,...
    A new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals the cost, as well as the budget, for fighting wildfires has increased over the last two decades.Within their overall budget, the U.S. Forest Service's firefighting appropriation has jumped about 25% since 1995.As a result, the U.S. Forest Service must borrow from funding reserved for the very programs that help prevent and mitigate forest fire.Climate change and drought have fueled the intensity of wildfires over the decades,...