Connect with us

Local News

BSRAD board reconvenes after allocations 

Avatar photo




Updates from the library district, parks and trails and WMPAC 


The Big Sky Resort Area District board met on Wednesday morning in its first regularly scheduled board meeting since committing its $21 million budget including local nonprofits and government services during public grant allocation meetings in early June.

During the meeting, the Resort Tax board reappointed its current officers: Board Chair Sarah Blechta, Vice Chair Ciara Wolfe and Treasurer and Secretary Steve Johnson. The board also approved the resolution finalizing the allocation awards from June, and approved the first request for the new BSRAD Opportunity Fund—organizations can request less than $25,000 for time-sensitive projects throughout the year until the fund is depleted. 

John Zirkle, executive and artistic director of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, presented the first-ever opportunity fund request. WMPAC requested $25,000 for a 15-passenger van to double as a community event shuttle and transport vehicle for use by visiting artists. 

More than 240 professional artists came to Big Sky in the past year, and most were transported by John Zirkle’s personal vehicle, vehicles of friends and donors, the Wilson Hotel shuttle, rental cars and private airport shuttles, according to WMPAC’s opportunity fund application.

“The [Big Sky School District] #72 Board recently voted to acquire a 15-passenger van to help solve for the challenge of finding CDL drivers to support smaller field trips and travel to athletic events year round, and this provided an excellent opportunity for WMPAC to join the effort to work together to solve both organizations transportation needs,” Zirkle wrote in the application.

It would be a long-term lease with priority for WMPAC. The school will own the van and take care of maintenance, Zirkle told the board. 

The request was approved. 

Brad Niva, CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, provided an update for the Visit Big Sky visitor education campaign. Visible on billboards in Gallatin Gateway, Niva said the “You’re on Mountain Time” messaging now ties in local nonprofits including Grow Wild and Big Sky Sustainability Network Organization (SNO). 

Niva thanked the board for continued funding and support. 

Whitney Montgomery, CEO of the Big Sky Community Organization, gave a similar public comment about BSCO’s three-year strategic plan, announced on July 7 and funded in part by BSRAD. He said the plans have been received very well. 

“Folks are fired up,” Montgomery said. 

Montgomery also spoke on behalf of the Big Sky Trails Recreation and Parks District which is pursuing an annual tax assessment of $88.62 per lot to shift funding from Resort Tax to a “four-leg partnership [between] Resort Tax, BSTRP, BSCO and property owners,” he told EBS in an earlier interview.  

Montgomery said about 60% of the public comments the district has received has been in favor. He added that from those who disagree, the district has received lots of good feedback to help improve the plan. 

Steps toward a public library district

Liz McFadden, board chair with the Friends of the Big Sky Community Library, requested that the $45,000 allocated to the library for “Library District Preparation and Ballot” be reassigned to operations.

“There’s been a lot of big changes, and we need to hire somebody full time,” McFadden explained to the board. “We do have somebody interested in the position, but we would need this money to be rolled over to operations in order to hire this person, and take the library to the next step.”

The board asked McFadden if the library will continue to request money for operations in coming years—during allocations sessions, the board stressed that BSRAD funding is generally not meant to fund an organization’s operational costs.  

“Probably yes, for one more year,” McFadden answered. “Because it’s gonna take this person a few months, six months, to get the library in order… It will probably be a two-year ask, and in three years, hopefully you don’t see the library anymore at Resort Tax meetings.”

McFadden said she hopes that the library could be funded by Big Sky taxpayers in Madison and Gallatin Counties, as suggested in the Big Sky Roadmap—a potential strategy to secure long-term funding through property taxes by forming its own district or accessing current taxes collected in those counties.

In a related letter to the board, McFadden wrote that a full-time staff member will be necessary to implement the library portion of the Roadmap. 

“I think that without this person, the library will continue on as is, in the school. Which has been great… But I think this community wants bigger,” McFadden told the board. 

Board members expressed hesitancy in discussion—if the community doesn’t vote to create the Big Sky library district, this new position would not have a public funding source besides resort tax dollars. They requested a check-in six months after the new library director is hired. 

Board member Ciara Wolfe motioned to approve “with the expectation of an updated budget… and also at a six-month check-in that there is a timeline and a plan outlined for us evaluating the feasibility of a [library] district.”

The motion carried unanimously.

Upcoming Events

october, 2023

Filter Events

04octAll Day17Fall Community Cleanse(All Day) Santosha Wellness CenterEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky

04oct7:00 pm9:00 pmTrivia at The Waypoint7:00 pm - 9:00 pm The WaypointEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky

04oct8:39 pm8:39 pmBSSEF movie night: TGR's Legend Has it8:39 pm - 8:39 pm Event Type :Arts,SportsEvent City:Big Sky

05oct8:39 pm8:39 pmBSSEF movie night: TGR's Legend Has it8:39 pm - 8:39 pm Event Type :Arts,SportsEvent City:Big Sky