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Local organizations attempting to lessen possible bond-passing burdens



Billings, Montana – Voters in Billings are now receiving ballots by mail, and one of the election’s initiatives calls for allocating a sizable sum of money to upgrade the city’s parks, trails, and recreational areas.

The $143 million bond includes plans for the construction of a new multipurpose recreation complex at Amend Park, which would have two ice sheets, a 50-meter pool, a leisure pool, an indoor track for year-round exercise, and indoor sports courts.

The proposal has generated a great deal of discussion and debate, with supporters stating that better parks and recreation will improve public safety and quality of life and opponents arguing that property owners will be burdened by the tax hike.

Local bond supporters, Play it Forward, have cited several private contributions that have already been made in an effort to lower the bond’s cost to taxpayers. As of October 16, the group announced that $4.1 million of their $6 million objective had already been promised to the Billings City Council. In order to optimize investments, they are also in the process of obtaining an extra $6 million in grant funds, should the bond pass.

Additionally, a $25 million contribution from the South Billings Urban Renewal Association would lower the recreation center’s taxpayer costs. (SBURA). Additionally, $8 million over ten years has been suggested by the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District (BTBID) to fund the center’s operations, administration, sales, and promotion.

A representative for Play it Forward, Chris Avrill, told NonStop Local that if the campaign is successful in raising money, the gifts, grants, and other sources of income will either lower the total amount borrowed or be used to pay the bonds each year.

“Think of it like a mortgage. Donations and grants that we receive before we issue bonds are like a higher down payment on your house. Your mortgage is smaller,” he wrote in an email. “On the other hand, donations and grants we receive after we issue the bonds are like getting an inheritance that you use to help with your mortgage payment. We can use those to pay our annual bond payment meaning taxpayers have to chip in less.”

Since the bond vote’s approval is required, the majority of the money generated thus far would not be used for any upcoming payments or developments.

Avrill stated that they would have to lower project costs in the event that the bond passes but they fall short of their target, as they still need to earn little under $2 million in private donations.

“We are very confident that we will reach the goal though, and we are already well on our way with $4.1 million out of the $6 million goal having named commitments already, and another $2.99 million in process with various donors,” he wrote.







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