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$68 million Law and Justice Center hinges on voters’ approval

Carie Birkmeier

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EBS STAFF

On Nov. 8, local voters will determine the fate of a new law and justice center that has been in the works for several years.

If the bond is approved, the county will issue up to $68.3 million in bonds to design, construct, equip and furnish new court and law enforcement facilities for use by Gallatin County and the City of Bozeman.

In addition to new facilities for the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and the Bozeman City Police Department, the bonds would fund new courtrooms for the county and city as well as costs associated with the sale and issuance of the bonds.

If approved, county property taxes for a home in Gallatin County valued at $200,000 would increase by approximately $40.66 per year.

Bozeman voters will decide a simultaneous measure that must also be passed for the new facility to be built. Bozeman city residents would need to approve a levy of up to 18.21 mills each year for up to 20 years to raise $1,634,500 per year to pay down debt service on the county bond.

Proponents say the current Law and Justice Center is outdated, unsafe and overburdened; construction costs will rise if building is postponed; the county’s growth rate necessitates expanded facilities for a larger law enforcement force; and victims’ safety would improve with a new facility layout.

Opponents say the measure is costly and overburdens property tax payers, includes excessive features beyond what is required, and does not take current crime statistics into account.

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