The Glacier County Commissioners issued the following press release late Saturday, May 16, regarding the incorrect language on the Public Safety Mill Levy Issue.
Voters should note when voting their primary mail ballot, the Commissioners intend to take action at their meeting on May 18 to void the ballot issue for this election. The Commissioners intend to resubmit the request for additional funding for the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office in the November General Election.
PRESS RELEASE ON THE GLACIER COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY MILL LEVY BALLOT ISSUE
On Thursday, May 14, 2020, the Public Safety Mill Levy ballot issue for the June primary election was discussed during the Glacier County Commission’s monthly meeting. Specifically, county officials discussed the issue with the incorrect language that was printed on the ballot. The Clerk and Recorder explained her office staff mistakenly sent the EMS ballot issue language to the printing company, rather than the public safety language that had been approved by the Commissioners. As a result, the ballot for the Public Safety Mill Levy Issue is incorrect.
Under Montana law, governing bodies have the authority to increase a mill levy, but such mill levy must be submitted to the electors. An election must be held in accordance with Title 13, Chapter 1, Part 4 or 5. The governing body shall pass a resolution and it must include the specific purpose for which the additional money will be used. The form of the ballot must reflect the content of the resolution. § 15-10-425 (3), MCA.
Resolution No. 2020-10, which met the statutory requirements, was approved in a timely manner by the Glacier County Commissioners. The Commissioners were first informed of the ballot error on May 11, 2020. Montana law requires ballots to be mailed no later than the 15th day and no sooner than the 20th day before an election. § 13-19-207, MCA. Given that the election is set for June 2, 2020, there is not enough time for the county to obtain new ballots and get them mailed within the statutory timeframe.
Due to the mistake, the Commissioners options are limited. After discussion of the available options, the Commissioners have decided that on Monday, May 18, 2020, they intend to pass a resolution to void the Public Safety Ballot Issue. The reason for doing this is that the ballot does not reflect the content of the resolution that was passed, and therefore it is statutorily infirm. It is the intention of the Commissioners to then pass a new resolution that would put the Public Safety Mill Levy matter on the ballot for the general election in November.
The Commissioners feel these are very important mill levies and it is unfortunate that one is incorrect. These mill levies support two very important county services–EMS and public safety. The Commissioners asked the Glacier County taxpayers for an increase through a mill levy for EMS for the first time in 2019. This is only the second time in 16 years the taxpayers are asked to support these services.