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McCormick residents urged to vote against mail ballot mill levy for fire department

| October 25, 2006 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

Neighbor, we want to tell you how you can save hundreds of dollars in taxes in the next 10 years by following up on this money-saving advice for west of Troy, Pine Creek and Curley Creek valleys, in the McCormick District.

We are a taxpaying group of property owners who take exception to a very large tax hike coming at us soon, via a county mail-in ballot. You will be receiving this ballot in the mail shortly and it is imperative that you vote "no" to a 34-mill increase in property taxes and return it to the county for a vote tally.

Why this public polling is sent by mail, and not voted in the general election at almost the same time, we don't know.

This tax increase will be for the McCormick Rural Fire Department. A whopping 34 mills! Twenty-seven mills are for $50,000 over a 10-year period, and 7 mills are permanent. This means that if your property has a taxable value of $200,000, you will be paying roughly a few hundred additional dollars each year for a very long time (much more for higher value).

The levy states the 10-year loan is for $50,000 but it is actually more like $80,000. Twenty-seven mills times the taxable value 292.791 times 10 years equals $79,053.

The ballot will claim that this money is to be used for "the completion of the McCormick Fire Hall," but you can see for yourself the hall is very close to completion - certainly not $80,000 short of it. So we can assume this proposed levy money will be used for long overdue debts; eight of us heard Commissioner Konzen state in a courthouse meeting that the fire district has outstanding debts, plural.

It is against the law for levy money to be spent before it is received because voters are entitled to know what the proposed monies will be spent on, and have a voice in whether or not they approve those expenditures. If the levy is passed, and the fire district uses any portion of those levy monies for old debts, they will be in direct violation of Montana Law - House Bill 179, Section 3, 7-6-2328, and will be subject to consequent litigation and related penalties.

You may have been told that our individual fire insurance category rates will decrease with an upgraded fire hall. This would only be true if the fire department was a "round-the-clock" manned fire hall.

We all checked with our fire insurance agents, and you can check this out with yours. We resent being asked to pay the high cost of a fire hall that was never community involved or approved, but more importantly, one that is beyond the scope of our collective standard of living because many of us are on a fixed Social Security income.

This ballot will be mailed out to just about every home in the district, not just taxpayers who are going to pay this money back, but also to every other registered voter, even though Montana code does not state this under fire district provisions for voting. The county claims qualifying voters are the same as for school voting, but schools also receive federal funding.

This is not about federal money - this is your taxpaying money; it will be paid for by only landowners, unless we all vote no on the mail back ballot you will soon receive.

Ed Harrell, Carl Martin, Betty Mack, Bonnie Franke, Ina Chapman, Nancy Hight, Roberta Martin, Keith Mack, Steve Sanders, Veronica Langton, Jim Hight, Ruth Bushnell, Harriet Sanders, Sandra Crame, Truman Langton, Gene Bushnell, Bonnie White, Janie Emery, Ed Chapman, Gary Crame, Peggy Harrell, Harry Franke, the Holmes family, Wes White, Jean Winn, Walt A. Newman, James Emery