A $450,000 mill levy proposed to help combat Laurel's emergency-medical staffing shortage is leading in early returns.
An unofficial tally shows the measure leading 824-504 in the all-mail election, or about 62 percent in favor.
The funding would make room for an additional three to five full-time ambulance workers for service.
The levy was proposed at a time when EMS agencies all over the country are facing staffing problems. According to a nationwide industry survey, nearly 66 percent of all EMS agencies have seen a decline in job applications over the past four years.
That problem is apparent in Laurel. In September, Laurel EMS Director Lyndy Gurchiek told MTN that in 2022, their agency received 1,238 calls for service and 177 of those calls went unanswered because no ambulances were available. In those instances, they were forced to rely on mutual aid from nearby communities.
In some cases, those other agencies aren't any better off. Earlier this year, Red Lodge voters turned down a similar mill levy that would've provided its service with more funding.
Laurel voters also voted in two City Council races. In Ward 1, challenger Thomas Canape was leading incumbent Emelie Eaton. Jessica Banks was narrowly leading Jessica Sawyer in Ward 2, 115-112.