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Public Safety levy in Yellowstone County passes - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Public Safety levy in Yellowstone County passes

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An unofficial tally of the votes in Yellowstone County showed the $2.752 million public safety mill levy passing Tuesday night.

The levy has received 51.3 percent of the vote.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said the levy will provide money for the county attorney’s office to maintain service levels in the face of growing case loads.

"We're an important component of the justice system," Twito said on election night. "Just like having officers on the street to protect you, you need to have prosecutors and attorneys to fight for the public to make sure those offenders go through the system, go through it appropriately and are dealt with accordingly."

Twito's office has not asked voters for a mill levy in 17 years.

State figures show that about 20 percent of all child abuse and neglect cases in the state are filed here in Yellowstone County, which stresses the full system.

Twito said the levy will not increase or expand services, but it will allow his office to keep up with growing case loads.

"We're going to continue to do the work we need to do to maintain our justice system," said Twito. "One of the things we've seen increase dramatically is a rise in felony crimes, rise in child neglect cases, the rise in mental health commitments. All those things now we can do that moving forward to make sure residents are as safe as possible as the criminal justice system handles those matters."

Yellowstone County Commissioner Denis Pitman said the levy will benefit the entire community.

"As we get more judges and we have more attorneys, we can actually move people through the judicial system better, fast," said Pitman. "We can get people help that need it, be able to address the issues as opposed to treading water and tolerating it, we can actually be proactive.

The mill levy will increase property taxes about $10.80 on a $100,000 home and about $21.60 on a $200,000 home.

See also: Yellowstone County asks voters to approve levy to help with strained court system

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