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City of Bozeman gets go-ahead for landmark $105M budget
 

Originally posted via live updates on the Magpie’s Facebook fanpage on Monday night, listed below are a few of the highlights from the June 23rd Bozeman City Commission meeting. Perhaps the most notable event was the discussion and eventual approval of the City’s first annual budget to exceed $100 million—a 41% increase over the FY2014 budget. Locals interested in the commercial comings and goings around Bozeman may also appreciate the new proposal for the vacated property on North 7th Avenue where the Van’s IGA grocery store was located.

Pictured from left-to-right, Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy, Deputy Mayor Carson Taylor, City Manager Chris Kukulski, Commissioner Cyndy Andrus, and Director of Public Works Craig Woolard (snacking on what I believe to be an apple).

Notes from the meeting:

• Deputy Mayor Taylor began the night's proceedings, as Mayor Jeff Krauss is currently not present. He is expected at around 5:30 p.m. and has stated that any discussion of the annual budget should not begin until after his arrival.

• Bozeman PD Deputy Chief Rich McLane is the first to speak, providing a Public Service Announcement regarding fireworks, pertaining regulations, and public safety for the coming 4th of July holiday. Deputy Chief McLane also recommended the Bozeman Police Department website for those seeking clarification or further information. ‪http://www.bozeman.net/Departments-(1)/Police/Police

• For the moment, the commission meeting is adjourned as the elected officials, staff, members of the public, and media wait for the arrival of Mayor Jeff Krauss. It's starting to feel like 'casual Monday' instead of the anticipated tension of the big budgetary showdown.

• 6 o'clock and all is in neutral. Anyone bring a deck of cards?

• 6:09, Mayor Krauss is here, and the meeting has been called to order.

• The former Van's IGA grocery store location on North 7th now has a 5-0 approval from the City Commission for a conditional use permit brought by Universal Athletics, who will operate a retail location and screen-printing manufacturing operation (using reportedly non-toxic, citrus-based solvents).

• Finance Director Anna Rosenberry just put up an illustrative table describing that for the average Bozeman property owner, the FY2015 property taxes would go up between $99 and $134, depending on whether the anticipated "cut" or full proposal versions of the City Manager's budget are accepted.

• Mayor Krauss had a few questions for Police Chief Ron Price on the point of a $50,000 line item for PD motorcycles. And, yes, the mayor did make a reference to the 80s TV show, "CHiPs."

• Jeff Rupp, president of the local HRDC, is the only member of the public who entered comment on the proposed fiscal-year budget of $106M, as it pertains to the community housing fund and his nonprofit.

• Currently under the microscope is the degree of improvements to be made to Bozeman's new stormwater division. The commissioners appear inclined to bring the stormwater district infrastructure up to the level of "bronze," as opposed to "silver," for a savings of $250,000 to taxpayers this year. In the words of Dr. Craig Woolard, City of Bozeman Director of Public Works, the change would still be dramatic and "put us on the podium" for Bozeman's level of service.

• On a 3-2 vote, the police department motorcycles budgetary increase of $50,000 has been struck down. Commissioner Pomeroy and Deputy Mayor Taylor voted in favor of "CHiPs."

• Commissioners are contemplating a $156K cut to a curb-and-gutter repair portion of the street maintenance budget, in light of a 10% increase to the overall street maintenance budget. Director Woolard stated that this will amount to "a couple of blocks" of Bozeman streets that will continue to endure dilapidated curbs and gutters this year.

• A number or small energy conservation projects (i.e. lighting, building controls, hot water system improvements, among others) are currently being considered as "items that could be added to the FY2015 annual budget." The total added, if all changes are accepted, would be approximately $58K, many of which offer a "buy-back" period.
 
• Vote was 4-1 for energy project additions of $52K to the FY2015 budget, with Mayor Krauss voting, "No."

• The commission is currently discussing removing $50,000 from the Community Housing Fund... Commissioner Mehl has stated his intentions to support the cut, but only on the stipulation that he'll momentarily propose a $500,000 addition to City's contribution to the HRDC. Motion passes 4-1, with Mayor Krauss voting against.

• Deputy Mayor Taylor has just entered a motion to add a $500K levy to the workforce housing fund. Seconded by Comissioner Mehl, and Mayor Krauss has just said, "I'm supporting this." Motion passes 5-0.

• Commissioner Mehl stated his unofficially calculation of a net savings to the proposed budget of $652K, resulting in a total budget for FY2015 of just over $105M.

• ...and at nearly 9:30 p.m., the meeting is adjourned.

In summary, the City of Bozeman was on Monday night given the go-ahead by the commission for a 41% increase to the staff’s annual budget. While I wrote in a previous post about the Fiscal Year 2015 proposed budget that significant swings in the budget are not uncommon owing to the large-cap projects like the new police department building, the $10M Parks and Trails bond, and the water treatment plant, I also noted that the budgetary increase of “41% may be reasonably regarded as an unusually large swing.” A few other things are now official, too: the City of Bozeman has its first-ever budget approval for over $100 million, and not one single person from the community offered an objection during the proceedings. It seems only safe to assume that taxpayers will have plenty to say when the property tax bill shows up with a 10% increase.

-TBM

Correction: Commissioner Chris Mehl sent us an email on Wednesday morning, including this clarification: "Things were moving pretty quickly but do want to note that this item from your facebook page is a power of ten off:

"Bozeman Magpie Commissioner Mehl has stated his intentions to support the cut, but only on the stipulation that he'll momentarily propose a $500,000 addition to City's contribution to the HRDC. June 23 at 8:29pm."

It was a half mil increase I suggested, or about $44,500. Taylor did make that motion and it passed unanimously."

 
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