From 1990-2016, the number of single-family homes in Gallatin County grew by 150 percent, from roughly 11,640 in 1990 to 28,938 in 2016, according to a recent report from Headwaters Economics.

Open space bond on June 5 ballot

Here's why some argue bond needs to pass

Between 2001-2016, Gallatin County’s population swelled three times faster than the rest of the state. That’s one finding in a recent report from Headwaters Economics in Bozeman. The report explores what’s powering the hottest cylinder in Montana’s economic engine, showing how over the last 15 years, personal income growth in Gallatin County has increased at a rate that’s more than twice as robust as other parts of the state.   

     But the good fortune has come at a cost. Since 1990, 15 percent of all new homes in Montana were built in Gallatin County. In that time, 93,440 acres were converted from open space to “sprawl,” the report states. 

     “That’s the equivalent of 146 square miles, or around six times the size of the city of Bozeman,” continues the report, which is cited by supporters of the open space bond on the June 5 ballot. 

     In a pre-election mailer, the “Vote For Open Lands” campaign warns how the county “is projected to add another 12,000 people in the next three years.”

To absorb this influx while also protecting open land, the bond would raise 4.5 mills for conservation efforts, with 4 mills dedicated to shielding certain open spaces from becoming another knot of cul-de-sacs. The levy is projected to raise more than $20 million over 15 years at a cost to taxpayers of around $6 for every $100,000 in property value. —DM


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