Sponsored by City of Kalispell

Kalispell Voters to Decide Police, Fire and Paramedic Service Levels

Reports identified additional staffing and equipment are needed to respond to increases in call volume and complexity

By City of Kalispell

In response to concerns related to staffing for Kalispell Emergency Service Departments, Kalispell’s Mayor and Council listened and asked a third-party consultant to evaluate the Fire/Ambulance, and Police Departments. The Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) reviewed these departments according to industry best practices and benchmarks. The reports identified additional staffing and equipment are needed to respond to increases in call volume and complexity, which leads to response times almost double the national benchmarks for Police and Fire/Ambulance calls. Findings within the reports found an 87% increase in violent crimes, and a 23% increase in emergency ambulance and fire calls over a 4-year period.

The Mayor and Council want to provide residents with the opportunity to decide service levels within the City of Kalispell. The Council passed a resolution to have a ballot measure sent to registered voters in March so the community can decide whether money will be collected through a dedicated levy to fund the recommended staffing and equipment identified in the CPSM reports for the Kalispell Police Department and the Kalispell Fire/EMS (Ambulance) Department.

What will the levy fund if passed?

Law Enforcement

  • 1-2 additional officers per shift for a total of 8 patrol officers to improve response times and increase proactive policing efforts.
  • 2 additional detectives and a crime analyst would help solve crimes that have increased and become more complex.

Fire and Ambulance

  • 1 additional ambulance with fire/paramedic staff available 24/7.
  • 1 additional fire engine with fire/paramedic staff available 24/7.
  • An additional station with full staffing located in western Kalispell.
  • These resources would help improve emergency response times. Currently, 24% of the time no one is immediately available as all units are occupied with an emergency call.

Why aren’t current taxes paying for these services?

Currently, 74% of available funds are appropriated to Police, Fire, and Ambulance Services. Revenues have not kept up with the costs of labor and supplies in today’s market. Taxes cannot be raised to keep up with those costs because State Law limits how much local governments can increase taxes to ½ the rate of inflation (CPI) averaged over several years. With the average annual growth (CPI) at 4%, and actual inflationary costs experienced by the City at 6%, taxes cannot keep up with costs. In addition, calls for service have risen year after year with more people to serve, additional area to cover, and more complex crimes to be solved.

What would the levy cost?

The levy asks for 60.9 additional mills per year. In the current year on a home valued at $200,000, that would be about $164.43 in additional property taxes per year, or about $13.70 per month, and for a home valued at $450,000, about $369.97 per year, or $30.83 per month.

How can people learn more?

Educational materials paid for by the City of Kalispell, contact Doug Russell, PO Box 1997, Kalispell, MT 59903.

The above content is sponsored by the City of Kalispell. To learn more about sponsored content, email [email protected].