Bozeman City Hall File

A visitor leaves Bozeman City Hall on Nov. 12.

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Between now and the November elections for city commission, Bozeman’s elected officials are setting their sights on addressing a slew of issues, from affordable housing and annexing land into the city to banning the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Commissioners discussed their priorities for the year during a meeting Tuesday. Some priorities were completed and suggested to be removed from the list, including an initiative on gender pay equality and a program to boost city investment in public art.

Others, like Bozeman’s inclusive city effort, were recently added to the priorities list. Other measures include a push to improve community engagement, moving to implement both the climate action plan and growth policy, and work on bolstering the city’s wetlands.

“We are not only walking and chewing gum but we’re riding a unicycle and juggling at the same time and the question is how do we prioritize these,” Deputy Mayor Terry Cunningham said. “We need to recognize that we have limited resources.”

During the meeting, City Manager Jeff Mihelich also presented updates on measures in Bozeman’s strategic plan. While some of the strategic plan priorities are direct, like establishing a municipal percent for arts program, others are broader, like planning and land use and affordable housing.

Mihelich suggested the city home in on actionable items within the planning and land use category in the future.

“Candidly, planning and land use will be a key priority to me for probably decades in this community because we’re growing so much,” Mihelich said.

Cunningham suggested the city make moves on a suggestion in the strategic plan to study at-risk environmental areas in the region.

He also recommended the city prioritize passing an ordinance banning the sale of flavored-tobacco products.

“The number of Montana kids who are addicted to tobacco will continue to rise if we don’t take immediate action and the best way to protect our kids is to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products,” Cunningham said.

Other commissioners seconded Cunningham’s suggestions. Commissioner Michael Wallner suggested the city prioritize seeking out grants or other funds in preparation that the 2020 census results will bump Bozeman’s population above 50,000, changing the city’s status for federal funding.

Mayor Cyndy Andrus also proposed elevating a priority to reorganize the city’s many citizen advisory boards.

Mihelich suggested the commission schedule a work session meeting to go over past work on annexing land into the city and brainstorm future strategy. Future work sessions may be held on board reorganization, wetland protections and additional funding sources the city could tap into.

Mihelich said he would bring back the suggestions to the commission in a formal resolution. He noted the priorities list may be better on a two-year timeline, rather than on a yearly basis.

Andrus supported the suggestion.

“We have been ….really thoughtful in what we are putting on this list understanding that we are looking at nine month that not everything is going to be complete in nine months,” Andrus said.

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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