A year after voters shot down a mill levy increase in Evergreen, the local fire department is seeking a significantly smaller amount of money from taxpayers.
The Evergreen Fire District Board of Trustees is asking voters to consider 37.72 mills that would bring in approximately $631,500 the first year to pay for staff and equipment. The levy means that a property owner with a home worth $100,000 will pay about $50.93 annually. The new levy rate would last 10 years.
The proposed mill levy is 29.48 mills higher than the current one, which is set to expire on June 30. In 2014, voters in the fire district approved a five-year levy providing about $145,000 annually. Currently, people with a home valued at $100,000 pay just under $12 annually.
In early 2018, the Evergreen Fire trustees requested 70.63 mills, meaning 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. Voters ultimately shot it down, with 1,222 against the levy and 953 in favor.
The request comes as Evergreen’s firefighters are dealing with more calls. In the last decade, there has been a 224 percent increase in calls. In 2018, the fire department responded to 2,935 calls, or about eight calls per day.
The increased mill levy would allow the department to replace aging equipment and give raises to its EMTs and paramedics.
The Evergreen Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of the increase in a letter to its members and the community.
“In our opinion, the levy request is carefully researched, developed and proposed,” wrote Chamber President Ken Kalvig. “While none of us — including members of your chamber board — look forward to increased taxes of any kind we very much believe this mill levy is appropriately sized for the fire district and more affordable for the community.”
Mail-in ballots have been sent out to voters and must be returned to the Flathead County Election Department by March 12.