$19 million bond for Fairgrounds new ice and agriculture center on ballot

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Bonds totaling $19 million will appear on the November general election ballot for a new 4-H and ice skating center on the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

KGVO spoke to Missoula County Commissioner Josh Slotnick on Friday for more details. He said the bond was actually proposed by citizens of Missoula County.

“First, I want to let you know that the Citizens brought this to us,” Slotnick began. This was not started at the county level, but actually came from groups of residents, people who work in the farming and 4-H community, and people who play ice sports. So right now the 4-H people share facilities with the ice people and the 4-H kids don’t have a year-round facility.

Slotnick pointed to the fact that a large number of concerned citizens proposed and presented the bail application.

“The 4-H people and the ice cream people came up to us and said they were going to raise a lot of money,” he said. “They would like to borrow money and pay it back through revenue, and they would like to see if the taxpayers would also help with a new ice rink and a new 12-month breeding center that would be open for 4-H children. So what we voted for yesterday is to put that on the ballot, and that allows everyone who can vote in Missoula County to have a say.

Slotnick presented the financial details.

“It will be for $19 million, of which $5 million will come from what is called a revenue bond,” he said. “A tax liability means the ice cream people and the 4-H people will work with us. We borrow money with full faith and credit from the county and they pay it back through the revenue they generate at the rink, and through $14 and $200,000 house change.

Slotnick said interested parties with 4-H/FFA and rink supporters made a compelling case to bring the bond issue to Missoula County voters.

“The presentation these guys gave us over two weeks in two parts was incredibly compelling,” he said. “I think if they make the same presentation to the public through their own advertising, marketing and campaign, they will be successful. I mean, the stories of what happens to kids who are involved in 4-H are super powerful. And on the ice side, the real reality of the situation is that these facilities are overused and we have people playing ice sports at literally midnight or one o’clock in the morning. So it’s time to expand, and the best thing about it, Peter, is that people vote for it.

Missoula has been supportive of bond issues in the past, ranging from $158 million in bonds to improve public schools to a $25 million bond for the public library.

The question will be on the November general election ballot.

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