Work on a Madison Valley Parks and Recreation District presses on as the group working on forming the district met again two weeks ago to discuss further actions.
Currently, Madison County has three parks and recreation districts: Sheridan, Twin Bridges and Big Sky. The districts in Sheridan and Twin Bridges are supported by a levy. The Big Sky Parks and Recreation District is currently a non-levying district.
Two years ago, several people in the Madison Valley worked toward a parks and recreation district and the Madison County Commissioners even passed a resolution to go to voters concerning forming one. But residents in Big Sky complained the district wouldn’t serve them even though they would be required to pay taxes into it.
Eventually, it was discovered that a parks and recreation district already existed in the Big Sky area. It had been formed back in the 1980s. The commissioners decided to rescind their resolution to put a Madison Valley Parks and Recreation District before voters.
However, the need for a parks district in the Madison Valley still exists, said Kevin Germain, a member of Madison Byways and organizer of the parks district effort.
At the meeting on Nov. 1, it was decided to move forward with a district that used the Ennis School District as it’s boundary, minus the Big Sky Parks and Recreation District, which encompasses about half of Moonlight Basin and various other developments in the Madison County portion of Big Sky.
Madison County Planning Department Director Charity Fechter outlined the typical items a parks and recreation district is allowed to do, which included not only supporting parks and recreation, but also cultural events, specific programs like sporting leagues or shooting sports, and special events.
Typically, if a parks district is supported by tax money, that money is used as matching funds for grants, Fechter said. Tax money could also be used for capital improvement and operation and maintenance.
However, the group didn’t make a decision as to whether they would pursue a taxing or non-taxing district.
They did however, set up three subcommittees to work out details before the next meeting Dec. 3. The subcommittees are governance, which will look at how the parks district board would be comprised and how the district would operate; budget, which would take up the issue of funding mechanisms and also potential projects; and public relations, which would work on communicating with the community about the proposed district.
The group determined to try and get the parks district before voters on the school election ballot next May.
The next parks district meeting will be Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Ennis Fire Hall. For more information, contact Fechter at 843-5250.