Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) A levy to support growth in the Missoula Fire Department passed with overwhelming support on Tuesday, though voters weren't in favor of funding a local government study.

With more than 19,700 ballots counted, the fire levy passed with 63% in favor and 37% opposed. The levy is permanent and will generate up to $7 million annually to support growth in the Missoula Fire Department.

“This levy will enable us to maintain and improve our capabilities, ensuring that we are always ready to respond efficiently and effectively to emergencies,” said Missoula Fire Chief Gordy Hughes. “The community's trust and investment in their department is invaluable, and we are committed to serving with the dedication and professionalism that Missoula deserves."

Fire officials last week approached the Missoula City Council during the budgeting presentations to request nearly $9 million in new requests. That includes a new fire station in the greater Mullan area, a 20-person fire company to staff it, and new equipment to bolster the station.

attachment-fire levy

The funding request also included permanent funding for the Mobile Support Team. With passage of the levy, the City Council can cross a majority of the department's requests off the list, as taxpayers would pick up the burden through the levy.

The levy will cost property owners roughly $46 annually for every $100,000 in a home's assessed values.

“City of Missoula leadership and staff understand the stress of rising property taxes; we pay them too,” said Mayor Andrea Davis. “The fact that Missoula stepped up to help in this tax climate means so much. We will continue to work with our state legislators in the coming session to find solutions for our residential taxpayers.”

While voters supported the fire levy, they were strongly opposed to a study of local government. The state requires local governments to place the question before voters every 10 years.

The local government study failed with 62% opposed and 39% in support.