Commissioners have been debating the city’s budget, discussing where spending needs to increase and by how much. Bozeman Montana is one of the fastest growing towns in the nation, so commissioners did not consider lowering the budget, but rather trimming back on possible spending increases.
Commissioners had debated several budgets, with City Manager’s Chris Kukulski’s budget dominating the conversation. Kukulski called for major investments in infrastructure, while also addressing issues created by Bozeman’s population and economic growth. If adopted in total, this budget would have increased a typical Bozeman resident’s city fees by 5.5 percent.
In Kukulski’s budget, the average Bozeman resident would see their taxes increase by $114 per year. Infrastructure spending would take $72 of the yearly tax increase per resident. The fees would fund deferred maintenance as well as street creation and maintenance in new Bozeman neighborhoods.
An alternative budget reduced the increase to $80 per year, representing a 3.9% total increase. However, this plan required cuts in both planning studies and affordable housing efforts, both topics that have been high on the Bozeman’s list of priorities.
The city ultimately decided to approve a budget closer to Kukulski’s budget, but with additional cuts, representing a middle area between the two proposed budgets. They city approved the new budget with a 3-2 vote. Bozeman Commissioners passed on several new hires and a few planning initiatives to cut an additional half million from the budget. They did add some spending in a few places, including the Bozeman Public Library’s new mobile library, the bookmobile.
The approved budget will add $92 a year to a Bozeman resident’s lifestyle. Total yearly costs per resident have increased to $1,148 per year. The 4.5% increase fell between Kukulski’s budget (5.5 percent increase) and the alternative budget (3.9 percent increase). Homeowners can expect to see a $1.32 increase in their property taxes.