IN THE MAIL — May 7, 2018

Monday, May 7, 2018

Mill levy is important for safey of first responders, victim needs


Dwight Harriman’s three-part series about Park County’s upcoming mill levy vote June 5 was very well done and well worth all of us reading carefully a second time before voting.

I think our first responders truly need the levy funds, and that if the increasing call rates we have seen in the last ten years continue, we will need more than this again when we get to the sunset trigger.

The cost burden will forever fall unavoidably heavier on Park County residents.

Life is not always fair and for us to have quality first responder services when we need them, we will simply have to pay the cost to have them available for all who travel through our community, whether or not we ever develop a “user pays” funding system.

The most disappointing part of this is we are just talking about how to maintain “reactive” departmental responses, not talking about proactive programs that would greatly benefit our community.

We surely can’t get to proactive programs until we adequately fund the reactive response needs. This funding is also important for the personal safety of our first responders, as well as victim needs.

Larry Stephenson
Paradise Valley
Mill levy is about maintaining the safety of our neighbors and families


The upcoming emergency services mill levy is an earnest attempt by our elected officials to come together to solve a complex and critical funding issue for the residents of our county.

I was disappointed to open Friday’s edition of The Livingston Enterprise and find an article that opened with an “us verses them” segment by a defeated former county commissioner, who obviously has an ax to grind.

This approach hardly seems constructive or honorable. I quote, “this is taxation without representation.” Really. Let’s see.

We voted in this group of officials who are representing us, and we are deciding this tax by a direct citizen vote. I’d say each of us is getting to represent ourselves. In fact, the only lack of representation I see is at the District #1 station in Livingston where a majority of active responders are city residents willing to volunteer to help their neighbors in the county. Many of us are already paying for fire protection through property taxes, but chose to lend a hand anyway. We’d welcome a few more county representatives to the department. I recognize that many of us are currently choosing to ignore facts out of fear that our “tribe” will lose something, lose aspects of our lifestyle, political influence, or a share of services funded by tax revenue.

The problem is that this isn’t some far away Washington, D.C., drama.

Newcomer or fifth generation Montanan, Livingston resident or someone who lives in a rural part of the county, we’re all in this together.

This is about maintaining the safety of our neighbors and families.

Raising taxes is a difficult, often hurtful decision, at best.

It requires thoughtful, fact-based public discourse in order for each of us to decide how we’ll vote. What I read Friday night, and the method in which it was presented, won’t help.

Andy Mitchell Livingston resident and Park County Rural Fire, District #1, volunteer firefighter