Council’s first work session in August has two topics for discussion, one of which is Councilman Rupsis’ initiative to draft a resolution outlining specific criteria for management, scheduling, and partner engagement with the upcoming Parks & Rec Bond. If voters pass the Parks & Rec Bond, the resolution provides explicit guidance to ensure the City carries out the same plan that voters are being pitched.

The Resolution (red-lined version here) contains four sections. A few summaries and highlights are below:

General Project Overview

  • The goal of the Parks & Rec Bond is to “improve the health and safety of our city through increased recreational opportunities for all citizens.”
  • The 12 projects are listed with total cost and funding source (General Obligation bonds and/or South Billings Urban Renewal Area funds).
  • Directs that bonds are issued in tranches over 3-5 years, making the impact to taxpayers less abrupt.
  • States that Park District 1 (the fee currently assessed to all Billings property owners for park maintenance) will expire/sunset.

Financial Commitments

  • A capital campaign [led by the Billings Chamber] will raise $6 million in funds and seek $6 million in grants, with the $12 million used to defray the overall cost to taxpayers.
  • The ice community pledges to sell Centennial Ice Arena and other assets to reduce the annual debt service of the bond.
  • The Billings Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) conditionally agrees to fund the promotion, marketing, admin, and operational expenses of the Recreation Center, up to $800,000 annually for 10 years.
  • The Partners for Parks Foundation agrees to raise $25,000 annually to ensure Parks Department programming and the Recreation Center are accessible to all Billings residents.
  • The capital campaign committee will work with Parks Dept. and Parks, Rec, and Cemetery Board to establish naming rights and sponsorship opportunities for all projects.

Project Management

  • Community steering committees will be created for each project, comprised of citizens and businesses in the vicinity of each, to monitor and advise on the projects.
  • Councilmembers, City Staff, and Committees are responsible for ensuring project budgets are protected from potential encroachment from other projects. If project budgets increase, committees need to secure private funding to cover the overage.
  • A public website will be constructed to provide up-to-date budgets and spending, status reports, planning documents, and more.

Recreation Center Management

  • Management will come from a locally-appointed operating authority or a private management organization.
  • The Primary Mission of the Recreation Center is to serve the diverse recreational needs of the residents of Billings.
  • A Secondary Mission of the Recreation Center is to support economic activity through sports tourism and related events.
  • Non-residents will have a higher user fee structure than residents.
  • A capital maintenance fund will be established with a portion of revenues used to pay ongoing capital maintenance needs.

Council will discuss the document further tonight, with a deadline of the end of August to finalize. 


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