BILLINGS, Mont. - Preliminary results show Billings residents have voted to pass the new public safety mill levy.
Unofficial results show 20,511 voted for the levy and 9,818 voted against. The levy will raise property taxes about $4.75/month on a home worth $211,000 (the median household assessed value in Billings).
Proponents of the levy say the additional funding will make it possible to maintain existing fire and police services as violent crime in Billings has more than doubled in the past 10 years. The city reports that calls to police have increased 55% and calls to the fire department have increased 57%.
The new levy will replace the existing levy passed in 2004.
Yellowstone County Election Administrator Bret Rutherford said the finalized election results won't be available for at least a week. Due to COVID-19, any ballots delivered in person on Election Day will be counted on Wednesday, September 16.
"We had a significant deficit that we've been able to plug for the last couple years using reserves but those dollars were almost gone," says Billings Mayor Bill Cole, "so if this had not passed we would have had a really big problem, but the voters stepped up tonight and they did so resoundingly."
"We're just so grateful that the community trusted us with these resources, every penny of which will go towards public safety," says Billings City Manager Chris Kukulski.
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John says, "It just goes to show that the citizens of Billings really do understand what the needs are, and I think more importantly they recognize the great job that the police department and the fire department and all the agencies that deal with public safety have been doing over these years with a really tight budget."