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Voters approve property tax levies to support Bozeman schools

GAIL SCHONTZLER, Chronicle Staff Writer

Bozeman School District voters overwhelmingly approved property tax levies on Tuesday's ballot, which will cost taxpayers very little but give the schools $325,000 next year to help run the schools and soften the blow of budget cuts.

Superintendent Kirk Miller said he was happy with the results. With most of the 6,600 mail-in, permanent absentee ballots counted, the tax levies were winning approval by 3,568 to 1,953 in the elementary district, or 65 percent approval, and by 6,533 to 1,964 in the high school district, or 77 percent approval.

Still left to be counted were about 1,000 walk-in votes from voters who cast ballots in Willson School on Tuesday.

"I believe our community understands the value of education of our kids," Miller said. "We worked hard on community understanding of the issues, building community trust, asking their permission and ultimately gaining their support."

He and other school administrators and School Board trustees visited some 40 parent and civic groups, explaining the need for the annual tax levies to help run the schools.

Passage of the levies will raise taxes by $1.25 a year for the owner of a home with a state-assessed market value of $100,000 that's located in both the Bozeman elementary and high school districts. That's a 60 cent increase in the elementary district and 65 cents in the high school district. Elementary district taxpayers, the vast majority in the Bozeman district, will actually see their local school taxes go down about $1.55, because of the expiration of a $500,000 levy for opening Hyalite School.

Bozeman School Board trustee seats weren't listed on the ballot and instead were filled by acclamation, as allowed by state law, because only three candidates filed for three seats. They are incumbents Gary Lusin and Heide Arneson and newcomer Dan Swanson.

In other school elections Tuesday: