With the rapid population growth around the valley, the Central Valley Fire District says that they've been stretched so thin they simply can't keep up with the number of calls that they keep getting, which is why they're now proposing mills to bring in extra help.
Central Valley Battalion Chief Justin Monroe has worked for the department for 15 years, and in his time there he’s seen a lot of change.
“It's been tough trying to find the people again with the right certifications. Our biggest, toughest recruiting issue right now is paramedics,” says Monroe.
In the last five years, Central Valley Fire says its call volume has gone up nearly 43 percent.
“That increase spreads us out a lot that we're running a lot more simultaneous calls. And that's where, you know, we're getting two,” says Monroe.
Central Valley Fire’s new Fire Chief, Lonnie Rash, says asking for money is hard right now but they need it.
“We understand it is not a great time to do that, but it's a critical need and service that we're asking,” says Rash.
With a full-time staff of 42 currently, they hope to add nine to 11 full-time firefighters and three to four full-time staff.
Rash says they want the ability to levy 30 mills—that’s up from the 10 they currently collect—but because of reassessment values they only plan to levy 23 for the time being.
“We need to increase our staffing because of the call volume. Which is causing us, because of our limited staffing, to delay responses for that second and third call,” says Lash.
The median price of a home in Belgrade based on current assessments is just over $500,000; for homeowners near that price range, they could be forking just over $200 per year.
“If we are unsuccessful in this mill levy, we're going to come back to the community and ask again,” says Lash.
Central Valley will also be hosting Q&A sessions next week for residents to have the chance to ask questions about this proposed levy. Residents should also expect ballots in their mailbox soon, just ahead of the Nov. 7 election.
10/25 6pm-7:30pm. Fire Station 1
10/25 11am-12:30pm. Fire Station 1