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Bozeman Voters Mull Parks and Trails Fee in 2020

Andy Berg

A Montana city will let voters decide whether to approve a new fee that will go toward maintenance and operation of local parks, open spaces and trails.

The Bozeman City Commission voted 3-2 to ask voters whether to OK the new fees.

If voters give the nod to the referendum, the city would assess priorities beginning in the fall of 2020. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the fee would be set annually by the city commission.

The city estimates the election will cost about $50,000, or half the cost of hosting a March special election. City officials were also concerned that a sprint special election wouldn’t give them enough time to ramp up voter education efforts.

The city also has $27,000 in the budget to tell voters about the potential district.

Some commissioners admitted that they’ve known for some time that the parks needed more money. Last year, the city estimated a $7 million backlog in repairs and upkeep for Bozeman parks and trails. City staff actually recommended the idea of a fee-driven parks district back in 1996.

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