City Hall File

The sun shines on Bozeman City Hall in this file photo from July.

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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bozeman’s finances for the previous fiscal year were in order.

In the fiscal year starting July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2020, the city’s net position increased by $50.8 million, according to the annual financial report. The previous fiscal year saw an increase of $26.7 million in the city’s net position. According to the report, the net position can be used over time as an indicator of the city’s financial position.

Bozeman Finance Director Kristin Donald said at a recent city commission meeting the increase in the city’s revenue outpaced its expenditures. Total revenue increased by $26 million, while expenses increased by $2 million, according to the report.

Despite the city expecting a decrease in the balance of the general fund, the fund balance increased 18% over the fiscal year, from $7,739,584 to $9,140,863. The report noted part of the increase is due to CARES Act funding allocated to Bozeman for COVID-19 relief efforts.

“Sometimes things occur such as the COVID relief funds they weren’t anticipated as part of the budget,” Donald said. “We can’t anticipate all those revenues.”

City commissioners approved a plan in November to allocate that money to help nonprofits and businesses affected by the pandemic. Some of the money also kept in house for undetermined pandemic-related needs and a COVID-19 operations program.

City Manager Jeff Mihelich said during the Jan. 12 meeting that closed captioning was now available for city meetings, a program that was funded with the COVID-19 relief money.

Despite the pandemic, the city didn’t have to furlough any employees, according to the financial report. The report attributed that to the city’s reliance on property taxes rather than sales taxes, which would be more impacted by economic conditions.

Property tax revenue increased 19% from last year to $28.3 million, according to the report. New construction and growth in the numbers of taxpayers both contributed to the increase, according to the report.

In response to a question from Deputy Mayor Terry Cunningham during the meeting, Donald said there is good reason to build up fund balances. Some capital projects may require complete payments rather than bonds or loans, she said, and some expenditures fluctuate based on changing economic conditions.

A recent audit of the city’s finances also found no red flags.

Besides the pandemic, the report noted that the last fiscal year also saw the city start construction on the Public Safety Center. Bozeman voters approved a nearly $37 million general obligation bond for the center in 2018.

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Nora Shelly can be reached at or 406-582-2607.

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