HELENA – Voters in Jefferson County will decide next month whether to back a property tax increase to fund search and rescue operations.
The proposed tax levy would raise about $29,485 a year. That money would pay for operational costs and some equipment purchases for county search and rescue teams. It would be split between Elkhorn Search and Rescue in northern Jefferson County and Jefferson Valley Search and Rescue in the Whitehall and Cardwell areas.
Jill Oie is the president of the Elkhorn Search and Rescue board. She said the volunteer organization has lost some of its other sources of funding in recent years, so leaders asked county commissioners to propose a levy.
“This way we can have a constant source of funding,” she said.
Oie said Elkhorn has relatively up-to-date equipment, so they won’t need to make many immediate purchases.
“It’s a matter of maintaining that equipment, helping it maintain its value,” she said.
Elkhorn Search and Rescue went out on 15 calls from July 2016 through June 2017. Oie said the money they would receive from the levy would be enough to cover most of their operating costs for the year.
“We’re a very well-trained, very well-prepared group of professionals who love what we do,” she said. “Having this mill levy will help us maintain that standard.”
The proposed search and rescue levy would increase taxes about $1.33 a year on a $100,000 home, and about $2.65 a year on a $200,000 home. It will be on the June 5 primary ballot for all Jefferson County voters.