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City of Helena approves bond and levy for June 4 primary ballot

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Posted at 9:48 AM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-27 11:48:13-05

HELENA — Helena City Commissioners approve moving forward with a bond and levy aimed at boosting police and fire service.

Monday evening city leaders voted on a levy and a bond that has the potential to expand fire and police departments in Helena.

“It's been 45 years since the city built a fire station. At that time, when the last station was built in 1978, the call volume was 504 calls a year. This last year, we were almost 5000,” said City Commissioner Emily Dean at the meeting Monday evening.

The levy and bond will go before voters on the June 4 primary ballot.

The public safety personnel and operations levy would add a total of 15 firefighters and 9 police officers. 3 call-takers, 3 detectives, 2 community resource officers, and a civilian crash investigator would be added to the police force at an annual cost of $1.4 million. 15 extra firefighters would cost around $1.6 million per year and the additional crew would help staff a 3rd fire station that would respond to incidents in the north side of Helena.

To cover the construction of the fire station, a $6.8 million bond would have to be passed by voters.

Both departments utilized independent consulting firms which identified gaps in staffing.

Jon Campbell, the Fire Chief for the Helena Fire Department, says it basically comes down to a numbers game with an increase in call volume and increase in population.

“Having enough manpower, human power to address the needs that the community generates for us is important. It increases responder safety as well as citizen safety, having a sufficient quantity of personnel,” says Campbell.

If approved the fire station bond would raise property taxes on a $300,000 home by $22 per year.

If voters approve the levy, property taxes on homes valued at the same amount would go up by $128 per year.