Council votes to withdraw Missoula fire levy from November ballot citing tax bill concerns

Missoula’s fire services face uncertain territory following a decision by City Council to remove a ballot levy that would have provided a permanent line of funding for city fire.

The mill levy, first introduced by city officials in August, was proposed as a solution to the Missoula Fire Department’s wavering response times amid increased call volumes — it would have let the city levy up to $7 million a year for fire services, including the Mobile Support Team. Citing worries from Missoulians about increased tax bills, the council voted 11-1 Monday night to pull the levy off November’s ballot.

“Passage of this levy will be the most important Missoula Fire Department item of business conducted in the last 18 years,” Missoula Fire Chief Gordy Hughes said in a city news release. “We want the greatest opportunity for success, and, unfortunately, with the anxiety among taxpayers, who will ultimately carry this levy, are not in a happy place at the moment.”

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The release said the decision from fire department leadership and Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess comes on the heels of many conversations with residents who shared concerns over rising tax bills.

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