Police & Fire Levies

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I’ll admit that I’m rather surprised that both the police and the mill levies failed. There are very few things that taxes should properly be spent on, and those few things include the military, the courts, and police and public safety. I really thought that the police levy would pass; wasn’t sure about the fire levy.

But as noted over at GeeGuy’s, part of the reason that the levies failed might have something to do with the current anti-tax, anti-government movement (which will, I think, continue to grow). It’s also possible that the SME/Highwood stuff influenced some folks to vote against higher taxes, perhaps even reluctantly. UPDATE: GFGirl has a poll asking people why they think the levies failed.

And by the way: in my first few years in Montana, when I heard the phrase “mill levy,” I was baffled. I didn’t understand what “mills” had to do with, well, much of anything. I figured it had something to do with iron mills, or maybe with waterways. Silly me. It was only last year, when the school funding mill levy came up, that I learned that a “mill levy” is basically just a fancy phrase for “property tax.”



  1. A mill is 1/10 of $.01 or $.001 (one thousandth) and, in the case of Montana, a mill levy is the net-increase on the number of dollars a taxpayer must pay for every $1,000 of assessed value on top of what has previously been voted for and approved.

    In many other jurisdictions, each year, a property owner votes for the total mill levy property tax rate, not the mill levy net-increase, in the property tax rate.

  2. Then, again, there are those who attribute the term “mill levy” to one Milton Levy, who was the city treasurer in Butte in the early part of the 20th century, who came up with the idea that the folks in Butte would only vote on the net-increase in the property tax rate, and no longer vote on the actual property tax rate, which would remain unchanged until the next mill levy vote, when, again, the folks in Butte would vote on the net-increase in the property tax rate.

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