BOND, GYMS BOND….AND PARKS AND TRAILS, TOO.
Tonight, City Council will vote on whether to send voters a $143 million bond question to fund capital investment in Billings’s parks, recreation facilities, and trails. The discussion on parks and recreation funding has been a long process, going back years.
2020 – Council discusses parks funding campaign with Trust for Public Lands
2021 – Legislature passes bill prompting sunset of Park District 1
2022 – Council adopts ’22-’23 strategies and priorities, including “Increase parks, trails, recreation, and cultural investments,” 10-0 (CM Neese absent)
2023 – Council adopts Conceptual Design Phase Final Report of Sports and Rec Facility 8-1. (CW Purinton opposed, CMs Choriki & Tidswell absent/excused) Numerous council and community conversations have resulted in the current proposal for a $143 million bond—significantly reduced from the original $231 million list of parks needs—including the following list of projects found throughout all of Billings.
The resulting development in our recreation facilities will directly and dramatically improve the quality of life for Billings residents—a world-class sports and recreation center, major trails projects such as Stagecoach Trail, finishing Castle Rock Park, Centennial Park, and Poly Vista Park, and repairing aging facilities such as South Park Pool, and the North Park Center. As our businesses compete for talent, these amenities will help attract the next generation of our workforce. Maybe most importantly, a win for our community will foster pride in our City and ensure that we have a community our children and grandchildren will want to call home.
Our goal at the Billings Chamber of Commerce is to raise $6 million in private donations and secure another $6 million in grants in order to reduce the amount that must be levied from taxpayers if voters approve the bond issue this November. Already, community partners are stepping forward to contribute to this historic investment in Billings’s quality of life. During public comment tonight, one of Billings’s industry leaders will make a major funding announcement. Tune in to see who it is! We strongly encourage City Council to call for this bond election, and we encourage all Billings voters to vote yes this November.
A NOTE ON PROPERTY TAX APPRAISALS
With property owners’s assessments at the forefront of people’s minds, it’s worth taking a moment to talk taxes. At the risk of re-enacting Kevin Bacon’s “Remain calm. All is well!” scene from his acting debut in Animal House, I’d offer that folks concerned about recently received property reappraisals wait until our county treasurer sends out property tax bills in the fall. Because even though YOUR assessment went up, many property owners’ assessments went up too. When it comes to what you pay in property taxes, what really matters is not your increase in taxable value, but how your assessment has increased relative to everyone else’s assessments. Below is a snapshot from an excellent article in the Montana Free Press explaining this.
As the author of the piece goes on to explain, using more helpful graphics, if assessment increases are not equal across property classes some properties may see a tax increase. However, he also advises caution when you’re hit with the sticker shock of the state’s estimate for your next tax bill. “[I]f you call your county treasurer and ask, they’ll probably tell you that the state’s estimate won’t be what you see when they send your actual tax bill out this fall.”
If you’d like to learn more from the Department of Revenue, the agency responsible for calculating and sending your property reassessments, they’ll be in Billings tomorrow. Or, you can attend an online meeting.
- July 11th, 9:30 – 11:30am, Stillwater Building, 3rd floor
- July 12th, 8:30 – 10:00am, Online, Click Here to Join
- July 17th, 5:30 – 7:00pm, Online, Click Here to Join
- July 25th, 4:00 – 5:30pm, Online, Click Here to Join
Unfortunately, much of the debate on social media and op-ed pages revolves around who to point fingers at—political parties, recent transplants, local governments—which is not helpful. We advise you skip the performative politicking, read the MTFP article in full, and opt to Keep Calm and Property Owner On.