|By Mike Ferguson, Billings Gazette, Mont.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
If it passes a second reading from the city council on
It's a property tax increase that would raise about
It could also raise fire insurance rates for commercial and residential property owners, leave fire stations unstaffed at times and result in the loss of up to 50 public safety providers, including police, firefighters and dispatchers, by the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Public safety and other city officials said they want voters to decide based on all the information they can provide over the coming months.
While both Dextras and
"We must have given 80-plus talks in 2009," the time of an
"Chief Dextras and I will probably be out and about just about daily" as the election approaches, he predicted.
Out-of-state figures are from the
For the 2012-13 fiscal year, the budget for the Billings PD was about 7.6 percent of the city's total budget, the lowest of
At a price tag of about
"It's a more mature candidate, someone willing to stick with something and finish it, someone who can communicate and demonstrate deductive thinking,"
Let the voters decide
Dextras said that minimal fire staffing is three firefighters at each of
Last year, the
"Not to minimize the difference between the calls, because they are very different calls, but if you look at those numbers, a significant amount of the population relies on the fire department every year," he said. "If we're forced to reduce the number of people able to respond to those, it will have a significant impact on response times, quality of care and levels of service."
"The public is the driving force," Dextras added. "They will determine the level of service they are comfortable with."
Dextras called it "essential" that he and
He said he's been through three other mill levy campaigns in other jurisdictions. One passed, and two were defeated.
"You learn a lot from those experiences," Dextras said. "The city has been very conservative with its budget, and the last mill levy got us through for 10 years. This levy is about helping the public realize the value of very competent police and fire departments."
(c)2014 Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.)
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