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Bozeman releases proposed budget, priorities for 2015

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: May 15 2014 10:49:32 PM MDT
Updated On: May 15 2014 11:15:10 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The City of Bozeman released its recommended budget and priorities for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Bozeman City Manager Chris Kukulski explained the City has big plans and a big budget.

"This year's proposed budget is a little shy of $106 million, up about $30 million from the current fiscal year," Kukulski said.

The city adopted six priorities for the coming months. Here's how the top three break down:

Story Mill Landfill Project:

In 2012, the city found volatile organic compounds in the Story Mill Landfill, and now plans to create a system to remove the gas from the landfill.

Kukulski explained the budget includes $1.7 million for engineering and construction of that system.

The city also took out a $2.1 million loan, and has spent about $700,000 so far on mitigation systems in homes near the landfill, and to address legal claims from property owners.

Kukulski said they put another $140,000 in the budget to help pay back the loan.

Police Station and Municipal Court:

Kukulski explained they have allotted $22 million toward building and operating a new police and courts building. They're asking for all of that money to come from bonds, and hope voters will give the go-ahead this fall.

The City expects to spend just under $30,000 in election costs.

Transportation funding:

Kukulski said the City's network of streets, sidewalks and intersections continue to be a huge concern, so they have set aside $445,000 for it -- money that is expected to come from an existing and expiring transportation bond.

He also said total taxes for the transportation system will increase by 15 percent to go toward projects like expanding Cottonwood, Ferguson and South 11th Avenue, and intersection improvements like at Baxter and Davis Lane.

"We really worked through the recession and were pretty successful; 5 years in a row we really did not have property tax increase," Kukulski explained.

He said this will be the first time in a few years that residents will see a significant increase in property taxes, but said Bozeman is growing and the city needs to respond.

The budget breaks down to an increase of about $136 for the typical resident over the year, or a monthly increase of $11.33.

The City's other top priorities include implementing already approved trails and open space bond projects, expanding the storm water drainage system and completing the design of a new family aquatics center.

Kukulski will present the proposed budget to the commissioners on May 19.

Also on Monday, Kukulski will recommend selling the historic Story Mansion to the Portal School of Creativity and Innovation for the appraised value of just over $1.5 million. Five parties responded to the City's request for proposals to buy the mansion,  but only the Portal School was willing to pay the appraised value.

This would end a years-long back and forth over what to do with the mansion. They previously made a deal with a nonprofit, but that fell through.

The city made it a priority last year to "develop a permanent plan for the Story Mansion."

A super majority vote is needed to approve the sale on Monday, then it would go before commissioners two more times before it becomes final.