"Coffee with the Chiefs" held ahead of mill levy and bond vote

Helena Chief of Police and Helena Fire Chief
Posted at 5:53 PM, Apr 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-09 19:53:30-04

HELENA — The Helena police and fire departments have started a new program to speak with the community about public safety funding.

While drinking your morning coffee, you can learn more about the public safety bond and mill levy from Helena police and fire chiefs.

Helena Chief of Police and resident

"The biggest reason to have these meetings is to educate the public on why we think more officers and more firefighters are needed," said Helena's Chief of Police Brett Petty.

The public safety leaders launched "Coffee with the Chiefs" Tuesday morning at Scenic Brew Coffee House.

Scenic Brew cups

Fire Chief Jon Campbell said, "The public needs to provide us the direction, their perspective, give us insight, and ask the important questions that maybe we failed to put out front. That way, we'll be in a better position to continue to answer those questions in the future."

The hour-and-a-half sessions will run until the June 4th primary election, when Helena residents will approve or deny the proposed public safety mill levy and bond.

In February, the City Commission unanimously voted to include the mill levy and bond on this upcoming primary election ballot.

"Ultimately, we are not here to tell people how to vote or that they should vote a certain way. We're here to give them the information, so when they do vote, they understand what they're voting on," said Campbell.

"Coffee with the Chiefs"

If the mill levy and bond pass, a third fire station would be built on city-owned property across from the water treatment plant north of Costco.

The new station would have a training facility, and the fire department would add 15 new firefighters.

Helena Fire Department shirt

According to the City of Helena, the fire department has seen an 892% increase in calls since 1979, when the second fire station opened.

The city says, "The police department's patrol division hasn't increased staffing in 20 years."

If the public passes the mill levy and bond, the police department would add nine new positions, including officers, detectives, and investigators.

Helena Police Department shirt

Petty said, "I really hope that the citizens – once they come to either one of these conversations with coffee or one of the public meetings, is just that they get a better understanding of their public safety professionals."

The City of Helena says, "A home valued at $300,000 would be taxed an additional $12.60 per month for both the mill levy and bond."

Future dates for "Coffee with the Chiefs" are listed below.

Tuesday Mornings, 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

April 9 – Scenic Brew
April 16 – Montago
April 23 – Red Atlas
April 30 – City Brew
May 7 - Vanilla Bean
May 14 – 1889 Coffeehouse
May 21 – Bagel Co
May 28 - Fire Tower Coffee

More information about the public safety mill levy and bond can be found here.