Bogert Pavillion Collapse

An insurance company determined a rotten beam caused the partial roof collapse at the Bogert Pavillion.

Homeowners will pay a little more taxes than expected to pay for repairs to the Bogert Park pavilion and increase wages for the city’s lowest-paid employees.

City commissioners approved 187 total mill levies with a 3-2 vote Monday. That will collect more than $23.5 million in property taxes for the 2020 budget year.

That’s $224,507 more than estimated in Bozeman’s approved budget.

“Now that we’ve received our certified values, some things have changed,” Bozeman Finance Director Kristin Donald said as she presented the numbers to commissioners Monday.

The median property value in Bozeman jumped from $292,000 last year to $345,000, according to data from the Montana Department of Revenue. That’s an increase of 21%.

Higher value means higher taxes.

The city’s finalized mills will now cost someone with a median-priced home $904 — up from the $895 estimate.

The majority of commissioners opted to leave the same number of mills on the table as initially planned to collect that additional money. Most of that will go toward the Bogert pavilion repair.

The iconic pavilion that hosts ice skating in the winter and the Bogert Farmers Market in the summer partially collapsed in March. A study found part of its beams rotted over time and city staff said there hadn’t been ongoing pavilion maintenance.

The city already carved out $200,000 to repair the structure in its budget. But that falls short of the $650,000 plan commissioners picked to restore the pavilion.

The additional taxes collected will also help close the $15,000 gap remaining in the city’s effort to bring all city employees to a $14-an-hour minimum wage for the year.

On the argument Bozeman residents already have an increasing cost of living, Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy tried to swing commissioners to roll back the mills to collect the money in its original budget.

“A lot of Bozemanites are struggling financially,” Pomeroy said. “So why not take this opportunity to give them a little bit of a break.”

Commissioner Jeff Krauss backed Pomeroy’s request. He said he didn’t think the commission should look toward taxes to pay for the pavilion repair. Krauss called the partial collapse a city failure.

“I think the money can be found; this is a very large budget,” Krauss said, talking about making cuts elsewhere to pay for the repair.

The remaining three commissioners rejected Pomeroy’s request.

Commissioner Terry Cunningham said he trusted the staff’s recommendation to pay for the Bogert pavilion repair. He said the additional money doesn’t completely cover the project and it’s still uncertain whether insurance will pick up any of the cost.

“The community has told us that they would like to see that facility repaired, and repaired quickly and done right,” Cunningham said.

Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl said the Bogert work is a one-time cost and the city shouldn’t cut other programs for the effort, adding Bozeman shouldn’t put off more maintenance. He called the city’s taxes fair and pointed out they fall below typical collections in similar cities.

As the final person to weigh in, Mayor Cyndy Andrus said she appreciated Pomeroy’s gesture but said the commission already discussed paying for the pavilion when it voted on the project in July.

“We’re in a community that’s growing and we have growing needs,” she said. “We have situations like Bogert pavilion that come up and we also want to make sure that we’re keeping employees that work hard.”

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

Katheryn Houghton is the city government and health reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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