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Billings superintendent disappointed but not surprised at school levy failure

Posted at 8:29 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 22:42:39-04

Billings School District 2 Superintendent Greg Upham said Wednesday he is disappointed at the failure of the district's $1.5 million levy, but he's not surprised that many voters balked at having their property taxes raised once again.

“You know, the safety levy that we passed last year was a factor and that was the right thing to do. I'm respectful of that. Inflation, gas prices, there's a lot of excuses. I could have done a better job promoting the levy, so I take ownership in that,” he said.

On Tuesday, the levy failed in a resounding way, with 67 percent voting against it and only 33 percent for it.

The money from the levy would have been used for high schools, including career technical education.

Upham says the levy’s failure won’t result in any job losses.

“We won’t have as much in the monthly checkbook as we had. I said from the beginning that we wouldn’t cut any positions and we won’t. We will have to tighten our belts and reduce some of our resources. We will probably put some things on hold like ordering new materials and those types of things so yeah it will impact us,” he says.

Upham says he believes Montanans are experiencing property tax fatigue and that it is up to legislators to take a look at other ways that could help funding schools.

“I think we need to have those conversations and I think we already have, but I think they need to become a little more real about what they look like. I’m not an expert in that area but I have been on the end of trying to make sure we do the best with our levies and there is a challenge there,” he says.