The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

Council discusses Public Safety Mill Levy

 

File Photo

A public-safety mill levy would help generate funding for the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Department.

The Whitehall Town Council discussed last week a possible mill levy increase on the general fund.

The Council unanimously approved a motion that will set up two hearings for public comments on a possible Public Safety Mill Levy to generate funding for law enforcement and the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Department. Members of the governing body are asking county officials to see what the increase would cost local residents.

This would be the first general fund mill levy increase in Whitehall since the early 1970's and would only affect residents in Town Limits.

Town Clerk/Treasurer Summer Fellows said she is currently getting the information on the financial numbers for a potential increase.

As an example, the upcoming mill levy for the library showed that an increase of $141,534 would equate to an annual increase of $12.15 on a home worth $100,000; $24.30 on a home worth $200,000 or $38.57 on a home worth $300,000.

The increase would help the fire department with needed equipment and other necessities. The current law enforcement contract with Jefferson County is around $111,000 with McBride and Fellows both stating this could go up in the future.

Council member Roy McBride said they really need to do something for the fire hall. Council member Bill Lanes said it makes serious sense to look a mill levy.

Fellows, who is also a volunteer firefighter, said at the meeting the department is all volunteers and really need new equipment.

The possibility of a recreation levy was also discussed, but Mayor Mary Janacaro Hensleigh said a public safety levy would be an easier sell.

Council member Pat Peterson added people will be more understanding of an increase for law enforcement rather than a possible increase for something like the pool. Town officials announced last week the pool would be closed for the 2020 season.

"Why should you increase my taxes for a pool I can't use," Peterson said.

The public hearings are set for June 8 at 6 p.m. and June 23 at 7 p.m.

File Photo

This truck fire in 2018 is an example of the many calls the fire department responds to.

GARBAGE

The Council also moved forward with contracting out the garbage service.

The Council voted unanimously to put create a Request for Proposal for leasing out the service beginning with a period of one year which includes a six-month assessment and options for additional years.

McBride said the current truck could die at any time, it could take 18 months to get a new one at a cost of $350,000 to $400,000 and they would also need a new employee. He said if they do the lease they do not have to worry about the truck and they could let someone else worry about dealing with a truck. He also wants to RFP to be constructed so the Town will be picky with who they hire and not just have a cheap bid with cheap work.

 

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