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Missoula County to seek MRA funding for elections center improvements

Missoula Elections Center Line
Posted at 1:52 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 19:41:44-05

MISSOULA — Missoula County will continue making improvements to its newly acquired elections center on Russell Street, and it’s expected to request tax increment financing from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency next week to aid in the process.

In recent weeks, the county has approved three items related to the center’s renovations, including a request for roughly $670,000 in tax increment from MRA.

Of that funding, around $260,000 will go toward ADA improvements, $80,000 toward landscaping and $330,000 to make improvements to a second building located on the property.

The county also has approved a reimbursement resolution, enabling it to invest in the $1.6 million Phase 3 renovation project and pay itself back at a later date by issuing privately placed revenue bonds.

Andrew Czorny, the county’s chief financial officer, said the revenue has been budgeted into the new fiscal year.

“There’s a real financial incentive for keeping Jackson (Contracting Group) on the grounds,” he said. “They won’t have to dismantle and restart later.”

In 2019, county commissioners agreed to a $1.87 million deal to purchase the property at 140 N. Russell St. to serve as the new elections center. The transaction closed in September, and the lease-purchase agreement was signed in November.

The project’s total budget with improvements was estimated at roughly $3.4 million. Under the terms of the agreement, 100% of the lease payments are going toward the purchase of the property, with 3.35% percent over 20 years.

At the end of 20 years, the county will own the property, but it’s already making improvements to the facility.

Casey Gannon, strategic initiatives manager for the county, said the improvements include a lift for new office space, ADA accessible restrooms and sidewalks, and improvements to a former ice facility on site.

That building will serve as an operations center for the Office of Emergency Management, as well as public meeting space.

The request to MRA will also include landscaping.

“We’re also asking for funding for landscaping, including trees,” said Gannon. “It’s an undeveloped lot. We’ll be putting in lots of trees across the area.”