BILLINGS - The Billings City Council voted Monday evening to approve a proposed public safety mill levy aimed at sending more tax money to the police and fire departments.
"Really, any time we could find some sort of solution that we could add resources to the police department and public safety, and in general, is a good thing. Unfortunately, the only way we can do that is to go to the voters. We are really very limited in the alternatives to generate additional revenue," BPD Chief Rich St. John said.
Discussions surrounding the mill levy started in the spring of 2021, during a bad crime wave we had in the city.
The vote on Monday night will now send the mill levy question to the ballot this November. Which could mean more police officers, as well as more funding for the court system, code enforcement, the fire department, along with mental health and substance abuse services.
If voters pass the mill levy in November, it will raise property taxes by about $100 a year on a $200,000 home.
City staff say it's clear the people of Billings want something to change, especially with crime.
"We conducted a statistically valid national police services survey and heard pretty loud and clear from our citizens that they recognize that there's been an increase in crime, substantially, over the past few years," City Administrator Chris Kukulski said.
If the mill levy goes through, it would add $7.1 million to the budget for public safety. Out of that money, approximately $800,000 would go to the police department.