Over the course of this year’s school election, we have been critical of Great Falls Public Schools’ efforts to impose another permanent tax levy on the public.
More than one of our readers have asked us: is there anything E-City Beat does support?
In short, the answer is yes.
Broadly, we believe in fewer regulations, lower taxes, and whenever feasible, limited government.
More specifically, and although antithetical to the above, we would emphatically endorse a public safety levy in Great Falls.
For the better part of a decade, crime has risen in Great Falls. Nevertheless, our excellent police department remains dramatically understaffed.
On July 13, 2019, Rick Tryon posted to his Facebook page:
According to the FBI and other sources, the commonly accepted best officer-to-citizen ratio is between 16.7 and 20 sworn officers for every 10,000 in population, so Great Falls should have between 100-112 police officers. The Great Falls Police Department currently employs 88 officers.
Over the past five years, voters approved a $100 million school bond issue, as well as the formation of a $13 million park district.
School district backers often cite “economic development” as a reason to pass annual mill levies. The truth is, the voting public has already demonstrated tremendous generosity by investing in big ticket infrastructure items. However, our community has not realized an economic boom as a result. On the contrary, Great Falls has remained statistically stagnant.
The schools received a tenth of a billion dollar boon, the park and rec department hauled in over eight figures, but what good are new buildings and pristine parks if our community continues to become less safe?
We don’t often agree with the New York Times, but it is worth highlighting when they are correct. Three years ago, the Times argued that the single greatest factor in attracting a professional workforce is crime — not pay raises for school administrators.
“There are all sorts of potential other amenities, whether it’s cafes, restaurants, bars, nicer parks, better schools,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University.
“But a huge piece of it,” she said, “I think is crime.”
If we want to welcome new community members to enjoy our city’s schools and parks system, it is high time we focus our attention, and yes, our resources where they should have been along: on public safety.