Bozeman has been growing and the local city streets may need some time to catch up. Bozeman’s population now sits at 39,860 people, up from 31,545 in 2003. Since 1996, Bozeman has added 12,000 new residents who now call the Gallatin Valley home. As Bozeman’s population has grown, the number of cars using its roads has also increased. Recently, the City of Bozeman has turned its focus towards fixing and maintaining streets in light of its recent growth.
Since 1996, Bozeman’s planning department has issued 9,300 completed building permits. Nearly two-thirds of these permits were residential and commercial construction. When a developer breaks ground for a new subdivision, the city often requests they address their impact on the rest of Bozeman’s infrastructure through impact fees. Currently, the city has about $10 million pooled from impact fees, but taxes and other assessments will be needed to fully maintain Bozeman’s streets.
So far, it is believed that $2 Million dollars extra will be needed yearly to stay up with chip sealing and repaving. According to Public Works Director Craig Woolard, every dollar spent in preventative maintenance is equal to $6 to $10 in costs that would be needed to repair a deteriorated road. Raising taxes would help bring in the needed money to avoid deterring projects until it is too late for minor work.
The City Commissioners are considering a 12.2% increase to the existing street maintenance fees. For the average city resident, this would increase taxes by $37.86 a year. That number represents 1/5 of the total tax hike, showing Bozeman’s increased focus on city streets. Bozeman may also create a new assessment on arterial streets that could bring in $575,000+ dollars in additional revenue.
As Bozeman has grown, it has gone through both pains and gains. Keeping ahead on street maintenance will help keep Bozeman a beautiful, convenient place to call home. Taking care of the bumps and bruises while they are small will keep them from becoming something more pervasive in the future. Taking care of small pains, will help the city make big gains as it continues to grow.