Some Thoughts for The City Safety Committee

Some Thoughts for The City Safety Committee

After the previous safety levy for the City of Great Falls failed in the last election by a wide margin, 9,095 no to 5,620 yes, the city went back to the drawing board, beginning by appointing another advisory group to study the issue.  We decided to put out a few thoughts as this advisory begins its work.

Don’t waste a lot of money on polling and/or promotion-  People in the city are already talking about commissioning a poll to find out what people think.  Truth is people have just been hit with large property tax increases.  We don’t need polling and messaging to tell us passing any kind of property tax increase will not be popular.  Make clear what is being proposed and trust people to make their own conclusions.  

Quit Playing Politics with an “Advisory Committee”- It is hard to figure out the logic for the appointments made for this committee.  Apparently there was no application process for citizens who might have been interested in participating.  And no process for deciding what qualifications the City wanted for members.  Worse yet, it appears that political consideration rather than knowledge of related issues was a major driver. The members of the committee are: Sandra Guynn, Mike Parcel, Wendy McKamey, Jeni Dodd, George Nikolakakos, Aaron Weissman, Tony Rosales, Thad Reiste, Joe McKenney and Shannon Wilson.

Separate Fire and EMT funding from Police and Crime- Fire and emergency medical services are fundamentally different from policing.  Wrapping them together in a levy forces voters to take or leave the whole thing.  Very few people have a negative view of the services provided by fire and emergency personnel.  Like it or not the same can not be said of police.

Make Clear Economic Arguments to Justify Increased Taxes- Rick Tryon’s crime task force back in 2021 didn’t do anybody any favors.   It ended up producing a laundry list of expensive items which many citizens did not understand or support.  To the extent the city wants to put an increase in the budgets of the police and local courts, it should emphasize things that save money like jail diversion programs, drug treatment and use of un-armed personnel wherever possible. In the area of fire protection, people should understand that their home and business insurance rates are directly ties to the safety rating of the local fire department.