BOZEMAN – Depending on how long the city of Bozeman’s Public Safety Center is delayed, the project design might have to be altered to stay within budget.
In November, voters approved a $36.9 million bond to build the city’s all in one Public Safety Center. The city said this project was well overdue to meet public safety needs as well as house city police, fire, courts and victim services in the same building. The initial design had been started but was not fully completed and now has been on hold due to a recent lawsuit filed saying the city advocated for the project instead purely educating voters. City officials believe no laws were broken but must stall the design until it is cleared by the Commissioner of Political Practice.
“We are hoping that delays that have happened so far can be made up as we go forward in the process,” said Assistant City Manager Anna Rosenberry. “But I would expect we might get to a point when we can’t make up those delays and it will start to impact construction time frames when we get into those significant cost impacts.”
According to Rosenberry, the delay increases the cost of the project by $200,000 per month and $2.4 million each year. In order to pay for this, the city would have to pull money from the general fund or change the design. Typically the city has around $1 million in spending from the general fund, which goes towards police car replacement, building improvements, and park improvements.
“If we had to cut out the equivalent of two years or more of those type of projects from the general fund because this project was delayed that would have a significant impact on the community and our ability to deliver services,” said Rosenberry.
Depending on how far the project is delayed, tax rates and when the taxes are sent out could be another issue.
“We issue the bonds at the market interest rate at the time of issuance,” said Rosenberry. “This potentially, if it just so happens that the bonds are delayed and interest rates rise. That would mean that property taxpayers are paying a bit more for this projects interest cost than they would have otherwise.”
In order for citizens to see this on their fall tax bill, the city would have to issue bonds by the spring/summer time period.
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News