Gallatin County spent $15,591 on the bid for a $59 million bond issue for a new Law and Justice Center.

The county recently filed its final campaign finance report with the state, detailing its spending between August — when the commissioners voted to place the bond issue on the ballot — and November — when the election was held.

The county used more than half the money — $9,567 — to pay county employees for their time raising awareness about the need for a new building.

Advertising expenses accounted for another approximately $5,700 with $3,070 paid to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Belgrade News, $2,000 to KXLF for producing three educational advertisements and $608 to Facebook for posts explaining the project and announcing educational events.

Voters rejected the bond issue by 55% to 45%.

The bond issue would have enabled the county to build a two-story building near the existing Law and Justice Center, which the commissioners have said is unsafe and too small to meet the county’s growing needs. The new building would have housed the sheriff’s office, victims services, the coroner’s office, district court, justice court, the county attorney’s office and youth court.

The county commissioners have yet to meet to discuss their plans now that the bond issue has failed. The commissioners have said they will likely ask voters again to approve a bond issue because it’s the only way to pay for a new building. The county has determined that the repair and expansion of the existing facility would be prohibitively expensive.

This isn’t the first time voters have turned down a new Law and Justice Center. In 2014, voters denied a $23.8 million bond issue for a city-only project. In 2016, they turned down a $68.3 million bond issue for a joint city-county building. The city and county discussed a joint building again in 2018, but the city eventually decided to pursue its own public safety center.

Bozeman voters approved a $36.9 million bond issue for a city-only public safety center, which will be on North Rouse Avenue and will include the police department, municipal courts, victims services and the fire crew now at Fire Station No. 1.

The county reported no spending associated with its second ballot question in last month’s election, which asked voters if they would like to change county elections from partisan to nonpartisan. Voters decided against changing the system by 54.4% to 44.6%, which means county elections will continue to have Republican and Democratic primaries with the winners in each race advancing to a general election.

Perrin Stein can be reached at or at 582-2648.

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