Guidelines for Running a Mill Levy Campaign

Process for Acquiring Additional Mills for the Library

Board decides how many mills to ask for, the duration of the mill levy, and when and how they would like people to vote on the issue. The board will need to decide if it is going to ask for a specific number of mills or a specific amount of money. If the library is located in a growing or stable community a specific number of mills is the best choice. If a library is located in a community that is losing population and seeing the value of their mill go down a specific amount of money might be the best choice.

Be sure to consider the pros and cons of a mail in ballot versus one held at the polls. The board should develop an election calendar to help them through the process. Once the board has decided on these factors a board member needs to approach local government officials (city council or county commission)

If city/county agrees to a vote on the additional mills, it can pass a resolution putting a vote on the ballot. The city/county needs to pass this resolution at least 85 days before the vote.

Required language can be found in MCA 15-10-425, but here is a summary of the language required.

  • Specific purpose for which the money will be used;
  • either the specific amount of money to be raised and the approximate number of mills to be imposed;
  • or the specific number of mills to be imposed and the approximate amount of money to be raised; and
  • whether the levy is durational (1, 3, 5 years or something else) or whether it is permanent

There are additional requirements that the governing body needs to follow.  Please see MCA 15-10-425 for more information.

If the city/county will not pass a resolution the board will need a petition signed by at least 5% of resident taxpayers asking for a vote to be put on the ballot. Required language for the petition can be found in MCA 15-10-425 and is essentially the same as what is listed above. The petition must be delivered to the county or city at least 85 days before the vote.  It is best to present it even earlier than that as the county or city will need to verify the signatures, and then place the petition on the commission or council meeting agenda.  Ask the county or city what timeline they use for petitions and resolutions calling for an election.  It is especially important to ask how many days the clerk has to verify the signatures on a petition and either certify or reject the petition.

After the county passes a resolution (either directly or due to a valid petition), the issue is put to a vote of the people.

The library should form a committee comprised of friends and supporters of the library who will campaign for the additional mills. Boards and library staff cannot use public monies or resources (ie. Staff time) to support the mill levy.