Evergreen Fire Levy Fails on Ballot

More than 1,200 opposed the levy, while 953 supported the measure

By Molly Priddy

A proposed levy to fund Evergreen Fire Rescue failed on Tuesday, after more than 2,000 people voted on the issue.

The levy, which the Evergreen Fire District Board of Trustees approved, requested about $1,155,000 in the first year to pay for staffing and equipment needs. Each year after, the permanent levy would have increased by 3 percent to adjust for inflation.

Voters ultimately opposed the measure, with 1,222 against the levy and 953 in favor. A total of 2,175 people voted out of the 5,077 ballots mailed, bringing the voter-participation rate to about 43 percent.

The fire station hoped to be able to pay for four emergency medical personnel to be on duty at all times, and pay for firefighter benefits and equipment upgrades.

The levy requested 70.63 mills, meaning it would have affective taxable properties in the Evergreen Fire District. Taxes on a $100,000 home would have increased by $84.23 per year and by $168.46 per year for a $200,000 home.

Evergreen Fire Rescue began providing emergency medical services to the Evergreen community in 2006. It began with volunteers, and eventually the revenue from the emergency medical services subsidized wages that allow personnel to staff the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In 2014, voters in the fire district approved a five-year levy providing about $145,000 per year, which is set to expire June 30, 2019.

As it currently stands, the tax revenue the station receives can only pay for salaries for the chief, marshal and administration assistant. In the last 10 years, emergency calls in the fire district have increased 224 percent, with 2,645 calls in 2017 and a projected 3,000 in 2018.

There are more elections coming up – fire and school levies, and the primary election in June – and the Flathead County Election Department is seeking election judges. For more information, visit www.flathead.mt.gov/election or call 406-758-5535.