Commissioners deny putting open space bond on ballot

8/8/2017 Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Freddy Monares, Photo by Gary Kachadurian

Gallatin County voters will not see a question on the November ballot asking whether they would be in favor of a $15 million bond for the open space program in the county.

Gallatin County commissioners made the final decision on a 2-1 vote on Tuesday, opting not to put the question on the ballot. Since the measure required the county to bond, or borrow, the $15 million to further fund the open space program, the initiative needed to be passed unanimously with all three commissioners’ approval.

In 2000 and 2004, residents in the valley approved two $10 million bonds to preserve the valley’s open space character. The $20 million fund for the program was exhausted this year, and open space advocates hoped to ask voters to continue the funding with another $15 million bond.

Steve White, county commissioner, was the no vote for the ballot measure. During the commission meeting on Tuesday, White said that the Law and Justice Center is a priority of his that needs to be completed before he can put the open space bond on a ballot.

“I want to reiterate that I’m not against the open space — I voted for all of the proposals. But I just think the timing is wrong and that, for me, the (Law and Justice Center) is a priority,” White said.

County Attorney Marty Lambert was the first to provide public testimony Tuesday, opposing the bond measure because he said that the Law and Justice Center had been on a list of things the county needed to address for the past 18 years.

Lambert handed commissioners several documents regarding replacing the law enforcement and courts facility. The overhaul of the building is estimated to cost about $7 million to get the building up to code, Lambert said.

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