School resource office proposal fails again at ballot box

by DERRICK PERKINS
Editor | May 6, 2020 8:57 AM

For the second year in a row, Libby voters rejected raising taxes to pay for a school resource officer.

In an election held via mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of Libby School District No. 4 voted 1,722 to 1,097 May 5 against funding the law enforcement position. The proposal would have added roughly 5.24 mills to a property owner’s tax bill.

Voters rejected a similar proposal last year, albeit it by a smaller margin.

School and law enforcement lobbied for the creation of the position, which would have been partially funded through a grant from Flathead Electric Cooperative. The utility was offering the district $100,000 over five years to help defray the cost of bringing on a new officer.

But supporters wanted to ensure they could pay for the position in perpetuity, which meant asking voters to cover the roughly $70,000 it costs to outfit a police officer annually. The price tag covers salary and benefits as well as equipment, like firearms, protective gear and a laptop.

Were it approved, the measure would have added roughly $7.07 to the tax bill of the owner of a $100,000 home or $14.15 to the owner of a $200,000 house.