Police, fire department budgets up next for Billings City Council

2014-05-19T05:00:00Z 2014-05-19T15:24:12Z Police, fire department budgets up next for Billings City CouncilBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The Billings City Council will hear presentations on what makes up two of the biggest slices of the 2014-15 budget pie chart during its Monday budget work session.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at city hall.

Police and fire departments will make their budget presentations, as will the Downtown Billings Improvement District.

Residents have the opportunity to comment following each presentation, as well as on items not on the agenda at the end of the meeting.

Taken together, the two public safety agencies consume more than 50 percent of Billings’ general fund, City Administrator Tina Volek said.

The police department’s proposed budget is about $21.4 million, up about 5 percent from the current year. Most of the increase, according to documents that will be presented to the city council Monday, is due to salary growth and step increases.

The budget proposal calls for 141 sworn officers, 25 support personnel and seven animal control employees.

The proposed fire department budget is about $16.8 million. The proposal includes 146.5 fire department employees. Personnel costs account for 83 percent of the spending, the same as the current fiscal year.

Proposed capital improvements include $918,044 for a new fire truck and $165,000 to re-roof Fire Station 1, 2305 Eighth Ave. N.

The Downtown Business Improvement District is a public/private partnership. Property owners downtown have elected to make a collective contribution to the maintenance, development and promotion of the downtown commercial district.

Business Improvement Districts typically provide services, such as public safety and pedestrian and streetscape enhancements, over and above what are already provided by the municipality. Proposed expenditures for 2014-15 are $340,744.01, down nearly $4,000 from the current year.

Taxable market value within the district has grown from about $85 million in 2005 to about $136 million in 2012, the most recent year that figure was available. That’s a 60 percent increase.

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