Bozeman Public Safety Center

A city of Bozeman rendering shows the future Bozeman Public Safety Center. The project is about $7.3 million below budget. City officials said residents will see lower-than-expected taxes for the center's construction.

After more than a decade on the city’s priority list, officials are close to having the money in hand to build the Bozeman Public Safety Center.

Monday, Bozeman city commissioners gave staff the OK to negotiate the sale of nearly $37 million in bonds. That money will go toward building the center for city police, courts, victim services and a new Fire Station No. 1.

Commissioners thanked voters for passing the bond initiative for the project in November last year. Commissioner Jeff Krauss called it an investment in a long-time effort to build a new center.

“It was the number one project for the mayor in 2008,” Krauss said. “So we’re well into 11 years now to get this done and here’s one more step along the way and it feels really good.”

Monday’s vote was unanimous with Commissioner Terry Cunningham absent.

Part of the city’s negotiation will be the interest rates attached to the bond sale, which will play into the project’s overall cost. Once the negotiation is done, it would go back to the city commission for another vote.

Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl said the project is a significant amount but it’s been a conversation in Bozeman for years. He said Bozeman remains the safest city in Montana and the center will maintain that for generations.

The city went to voters twice before with plans to get staff out of the Law and Justice Center, a building shared with Gallatin County that’s aging and out of space. Both times, voters rejected the plans, once for a city center in 2011 and once for a joint city-county proposal in 2016.

Roughly 60% of Bozeman voters supported the Bozeman Public Safety Center last year.

The city is still finishing designs for the building. Staff estimated the total price of the project will reach roughly $40 million.

While the city’s project will free up some space in the Law and Justice Center, Gallatin County Commissioners have said it’s not enough to meet the area’s needs. They’ve said they still need a way out of the building, which their past evaluations priced as more expensive to repair than replace.

Gallatin County Commissioners decided Monday to ask voters to approve a $59 million bond issue to build a new Law and Justice Center for the county sheriff’s office and courts. The county issue will go on the November ballot.

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

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