Wildfires are sparking up all across Montana this summer and there might not be enough funds available to suppress these fires. Hamilton Republican Senator Pat Connell says there was an estimated 60 million dollars in a specific fund that pays for fighting fires, but that number has been almost cut in half.

“When the ending fund balance in June was what some 50 or so million under what we expected, that is basically tapping 30 million out of the fires suppression fund, leaving roughly 30 million in the fund,” said Connell. “We squeezed the juice out of the lemon tree pretty hard.”

Connell says the remaining 30 million dollars will be used to pay for fire suppression not only this year, but next year as well. He fears that no money will be returned to the fund because no reversion money will be available.

“Reversion money means money that the different departments had squirrelled away and had not spent toward the end of their fiscal year,” Connell said. “If they want to buy extra office furniture or if they want to take a trip to some exotic place, put that in on the budget and don’t do it as a result of stashing money.”

According to Connell, fire suppression last year cost roughly 17 million dollars. He believes that the fire suppression fund will be emptied if Montana experiences average fire years in 2017 and 2018.

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