One Nation, Under God

In favor of PCSO Mill Levy

Now I know that most of you don’t know me well enough to really care, one way or another, about where I fall on important issues such as mill levies and the like. Though I am now a taxpayer – and soon to be homeowner/buyer – in Phillips County, I am so new to the area that an editorial on why I support the levy being proposed by the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office may, at first, leave you thinking “who cares?”

Well, I care. Since I am looking forward to becoming a permanent fixture in Phillips County – sorry to disappoint anyone – this is a major concern for me. Not because I think I already know so much about my new community, but because I know what happened in the last place I lived; Mineral County, Mont.,

I sat down with Phillips County Sheriff Scott Moran last week and interviewed him about the proposed mill levy which would replace the levy voted on and passed in 2002 and was then passed again in 2006. The PCSO is asking for an additional $51, 739.90 to be added to the $98,300 that has been approved since 2002. Not only would the new levy, if passed, cost taxpayers less than the previous levy per year, it will also allow the sheriff’s office to remain one which is proactive rather than reactive. If the levy were to fail, the PCSO would not get the $51, 7390 but would also lose the $98,300 that has been approved for the past 12-years.

A cut in funds of that magnitude can be catastrophic. I know because I have seen it happen.

I lived in Mineral County for nearly 10-years and each year watched as the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office cut staff, lost deputies to better paying departments and lost valuable members of the community because as an institution, they were severely underfunded. This led to a downward spiral of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. At one time they had nearly 20 employees making up a staff consisting of the sheriff, under sheriff, deputy sheriffs, dispatchers, civil clerks and jailers. That was about 10 years ago and boy, times have changed.

In 2005, an increase to levy by 25 mills was voted down and the county commissioners were left facing some tough decisions about what to about the sheriff’s office budget. What they did, in a word, was nothing.

It was nearly 10-years later that I left Superior for the greener pastures of Malta. In that time, I watched on as the staff numbers of the MCSO dwindled, response times for crimes went from a few minutes to instances where it took a deputy a few weeks to respond. Crimes went unsolved. In fact, now in Mineral County – at least when I left there two months ago – you would have about as much luck getting Magnum P.I. to respond to a call on Sundays as you would the MCSO. They simply didn’t have enough staff – or money to pay the staff – to have anyone besides a dispatcher and jailer working on the weekends.

With the lack of local law enforcement came a lack of confidence in the local law enforcement. It has gotten to the point where the county attorney and the sheriff fight back and forth like Archie Bunker and Meathead and people of the community don’t feel safe…at least I didn’t.

As I said earlier, I am new to the area and I don’t yet understand what reaction a proposed mill levy will get. I was pleasantly surprised that the building reserve was voted in for the Malta School District. I say I was surprised because the last time Superior tried to get funding to enrich the local high school, voters shot it down with a vengeance. What I have figured out in my short time here is that unlike Superior – which is becoming another Montana ghost town – Malta is a thriving community and I am proud to live here. I enjoy living in a community where I feel that my family and I are safe. I will be voting yes to the new levy. Thank you for your time.

 

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