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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Missoula and Helena voters split approval on fire and safety levies

2024 election results graphic

The Missoula Fire Department is set to hire new firefighters for the first time in nearly two decades after voters approved a funding measure on the primary election ballot.

The last time the department expanded its ranks was 2008. Since then, Missoula’s population swelled by more than 10,000 people. Fire officials asked voters to approve a property tax increase to hire 20 new personnel and build a new fire station they say will help bring down response times and address rising call volume.

Unofficial results from the Montana Secretary of State show that request passing with 63% of the vote.

City councilmember Stacie Anderson at a press event told Missoula fire chief Gordy Hughes the department’s public information campaign likely helped push the levy across the finish line.

“They don’t want to have to ask for help; they are the helpers,” Anderson said. “But, this levy really was a very big show of support for the community that you’re valued, appreciated and that we see you and we realize that the work you do is worth investing in.”

It was a slightly different story for the city of Helena’s funding requests for its fire and emergency services. As of early Wednesday afternoon, unofficial results showed a bond to build a new fire station passing by fewer than 100 votes. But, Helena voters rejected a levy to hire personnel to staff that station.

A spokesperson for the city commission did not immediately respond to MTPR’s request for comment.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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