County Commission would like bonds for open space, fairgrounds
7/27/2017 Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Freddy Monares, Photo by Gary Kachadurian
Gallatin County commissioners are pursuing bonds for an open space program and for a new multipurpose building at the fairgrounds and maintenance at the regional park.
This year the Open Lands Board announced the money used to buy conservation easements in the county had dwindled. Gallatin County voters approved two bonds in 2000 and 2004 totaling $20 million to manage growth and conserve open space.
The program preserved nearly 50,000 acres in the area, and open space advocates are in the process of asking voters to approve another bond.
On Tuesday, David Weinstein, conservation finance director for the Trust for Public Lands, presented polling results that asked voters in the county if they would be willing to bond to fund the open space program. The results showed strong support for a $20 million bond, with about 66 percent of residents in the county supporting it while knowing the financial impact on their taxes.
Commissioners had asked Weinstein to look into the possibility of using the bond money to help pay for a fairgrounds building and maintenance at the regional park. Under state law, funding capital improvements at the fairgrounds does not fit the criteria for open space bonds, he said.
“We do believe that we could earmark capital improvements under the existing ballot language for something like the regional park, but obviously we still can’t do operations to maintenance under the restraints of a bond,” Weinstein said. “We’d be happy to discuss the possibility of a mill levy in the future as well with you all.”