Council set to hear from public on Family Safety Levy

2014-07-14T00:00:00Z 2014-07-18T06:12:04Z Council set to hear from public on Family Safety LevyBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A public hearing followed by a council vote on placing the proposed Family Safety Levy on the Nov. 4 ballot is the final piece of business on Monday’s Billings City Council agenda.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at Billings City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.

City Administrator Tina Volek wrote in a memo that the city has built up non-budgeted reserves to cover police, fire and 911 dispatcher costs through the 2017-18 fiscal year. But increasing costs and what Volek called limited property tax growth due to statewide reappraisal practices “are not allowing growth to keep up with budget needs.”

The mill levy option favored by city staff will raise a projected $2 million during the first year, 2015-16, and an estimated $22.8 million by the 10th year, 2024-25. Twelve mills would be assessed the first year, rising to 125 mills the 10th year.

The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an additional $31 annually in property taxes during the first year and $325 the 10th year of the perpetual levy.

Answering a question posed last week by Councilman Denis Pitman, Finance Director Patrick Weber calculated how much larger the levy would need to be if the city council elects not to spend all of the city’s $10 million or so in unbudgeted reserves on public safety.

Spending $1 million on something other than public safety would boost the mills levied during the 2017-18 fiscal year from 24 to 29 and the additional annual property taxes on a $200,000 home from $62 to $75.

Spending $2 million or $3 million on functions other than public safety would have the same effect during 2017-18 on the property tax bill of the owner of a $200,000 home, Weber noted.

The city council will hold two additional public hearings Monday. One authorizes the sale of property at 1146 Grand Ave. — Public Works Director Dave Mumford recommends rejecting the $35,500 bid received — and the other is on vacating a portion of Monroe Street just north of Orrel Street. Mumford wrote in a memo that Community and Leadership Development Inc. is prepared to pay nearly $22,000 for the property, about 9,600 square feet, in order to construct five duplexes.

Monday’s consent agenda

The city council has a sizable consent agenda to work through Monday. Among the 22 items:

Awarding a $113,670 bid to construct the Aronson Bypass Trail at Swords Park

Awarding a $1.06 million storm drain project and related improvements on Grand Avenue between 19th and 21st Streets West

Approving an approximately $55,000 change order to the Empire Parking Garage, which is scheduled for completion this month

Approving an agreement to provide school resource officers at middles schools and high schools and, for the first time, at the Career Center. The 2014-15 school year marks the 19th year of the program.

Approving a $150,000 amendment to a contract to pay for studies that will lead to a license to expand the landfill

Authorizing about $15,000, the city’s share of an environmental assessment required to relocate part of a runway used for general aviation at the Billings Logan International Airport. The move will allow airport officials to better utilize the central portion of the airfield for future development.

Approving a loan of up to $40,000 from the Downtown Revolving Loan Fund for Pita Pit to open a new eatery at 2813 Second Ave. N as well as a $150,000 one-year loan to Tracy Lofts Development Venture LLP to pay off a loan for constructing loft apartments at the Tracy Building, 2600 Montana Ave.

Authorizing a $395,000 bond sale to pay for two sidewalk projects — along Rimrock Road from Forsythia Boulevard to Shiloh Road and at various other locations throughout the city.

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