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The Billings City Council agrees to put a $143 million bond on the November election ballot



Billings, Montana – Residents of Billings will vote on a $143 million parks bond in November after the city council approved a resolution to put it on the ballot 7-4.

A new recreation center would be built in south Billings with the majority of the bond, or around $86 million.

At the city council meeting, some people discussed parks and their value to the local community and economy.

A swimming pool and two ice rinks would be featured in the multigenerational recreation facility. Some claim that Billings might host competitive events as a result.

“Here we are the largest city in the state and we have arguably one of the oldest and probably one of the most rundown rinks,” said Jill McKnight, who is with the Billings Bulls Hockey League. “Centennial (Ice Arena) is about 20 years past its effective use and it’s just time.”

“Billings is a fantastic place to live,” said Jeremy Seidlitz, a Billings resident, who plays in the adult hockey league. “However, it seems like nobody stays here over the weekends. Everybody goes somewhere, like excellent jobs here but the amenities are just kind of lacking.”

Some of the $12 million in improvements that Castle Rock Park might get include an event pavilion, an amphitheater, and basketball courts.

The $8 million list for Centennial Park includes shelters and irrigation for the baseball fields.

Additionally, a bond for $10 million has been issued in order to renovate the South Park pool.

The council agreed to allow voters to examine the bond after discussion and amendment suggestions, including delaying the vote.

If voters approve the $143 million bond proposal, every $100,000 in home values would see a $50 increase in property taxes.

Therefore, homeowners of a $400,000 house may have to pay an additional $200 in taxes each year.

Some people who commented on Monday night committed to contributing to the projects, including Par Montana, which made a $2 million pledge.

“Anywhere from the parks to the trail systems, even the recreation center, our employees are very excited about it,” said Kim Jakub, Par Montana vice-president and refinery manager.

“And I think this is a great idea but I know 143 and a half million dollars is a very tough pill to swallow,” said Seidlitz. “Even after seeing the tax appraisal go up for what we will get. That’s a fantastic opportunity.”

“I’m absolutely willing to spend more to have the community facilities that we need,” said McKnight.


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