Missoula County voters to weigh in on open space bond

Posted at 7:52 AM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 09:52:13-04

MISSOULA – Missoula County voters will be given the chance to decide the fate of a $15 million bond to pay for more efforts to save open space.

But with taxpayers already smarting over recent votes to improve schools, build the new Missoula library and the Fort Missoula Regional Park, it remains to be seen how the proposal will play at the polls.

Advocates of open space say Missoula County is reaching a critical point. Rapid growth and development, especially with residential housing, is putting a crunch on open areas and the remaining farmlands in the Missoula Valley.

That’s especially true west of Missoula along Mullan Road, and south of Missoula where hundreds of new housing units are slated to come online in the next few years.

Backers of this latest proposal say the $15 million would help “seed” additional open space preservation above and beyond what was done with the previous program that’s been used for several years. That includes completing public access around Mount Dean Stone.

The idea already has the endorsement of the Missoula City Council and following a long public hearing Monday morning, Missoula County commissioners agreed to allow voters to decide the fate of the issue in November, approving the ballot measure unanimously.

The proposed bond would cost taxpayers an additional $18 dollars a year on a home valued at $265,000.