The Bozeman School Board will ask voters in a May 7 election to approve raising four property taxes to pay for general school operations, building repairs and computer technology.

If all four ballot measures won voter approval, the levies would raise more than $2.2 million a year for the schools.

The impact on taxpayers depends on what happens in the 2013 Legislature with school funding.

Bozeman School Board trustees have been lobbying for Senate Bill 175, which if passed would use some state oil and gas revenue to provide property tax relief for school taxpayers.

If SB 175 passes in Helena, and if Bozeman voters OK the four tax levies, the owners of a $100,000 assessed-value home would actually see their taxes go down by $2.52 a year.

However, if the Legislature passes no new school funding bills, the four local tax levies would cost the $100,000 home owners an additional $8.76 a year, on top of the $300 a year they’re already paying to the Bozeman schools. For a $200,000 home, the amounts would double.

Despite uncertainty about what will happen in the Legislature, the School Board voted to put the levies on the ballot to meet this week’s deadline to get information to Gallatin County officials, so that ballots can be printed and ready to go out in three weeks to 38,000 voters.

Also on the ballot will be three Bozeman elementary district seats on the eight-member School Board. This Thursday is the deadline for candidates to file and get their names on the ballot.

Incumbents Elizabeth Williamson and Andy Willett, who were appointed months ago, have filed to run for three-year terms, while incumbent Sue MacGrath has filed to run for a two-year term.

Even in the best-case scenario from the school district’s viewpoint -- passage of the levy and SB 175 -- the district will likely face budget cuts, because employee unions are expected to negotiate pay raises and more than $200,000 in federal funds is expected to be lost because of the budget cutting known as the sequester.

“The budgets we have aren’t going to cover all the costs and needs we have in the district,” said Steve Johnson, deputy superintendent for operations.

The School Board voted unanimously to ask voters to approve:

--A $303,500 increase in the general fund to operate the elementary and middle schools next year, for such expenses as salaries to heating schools.

--An $81,000 increase for the high school’s general expenses. It would raise taxes in the larger high school district by 19 to 78 cents a year on a $100,000 home, depending on what happens in Helena.

--A $1.5 million per year building repair fund for elementary and middle schools, to replace the current $1 million building fund, which expires this year. The $1.5 million would continue for six years, totaling $9 million.

--A $382,000 increase to pay for computer technology in the elementary and middle schools. As enrollment has grown, the amount available for computer technology per elementary student has decreased from more than $60 per student to less than $50.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.



The Bozeman Daily Chronicle welcomes public comments on stories, but we do require you to abide by some ground rules. In general: be polite, don’t post obscenities, stay on topic, respect people’s privacy, don’t feed the trolls and be responsible.

Comment deleted? Discuss it with us.