A bill in the Legislature that would limit school bond and levy elections to November and May—creating potential challenges for the Blaine County School District—is headed to the House floor.

House Bill 393 passed through the House State Affairs Committee this week.

The bill would prohibit school districts from holding bond and levy elections in March or August. If it becomes law, it could create a tricky situation for the Blaine County school board in the coming year, board members say.

The Blaine County School District is tentatively planning to put a levy for building repairs, additions and technology on the ballot in August. The district’s Finance Committee has recommended asking the public for a plant facilities levy of $40,021,289 to go toward various projects and general maintenance over the next 10 years.

If House Bill 393 passes, the board would likely need to push the election back to November. But that would mean the district would have to wait 14 months—until the end of the next full tax year—before accessing the funding if it passes.

A November election date would also mean more uncertainty when it comes to budgeting. An August election would fall about one month into the district’s fiscal year, so the district could still budget contingently upon it, Trustee Rob Clayton said at a meeting earlier this month. In November, by contrast, the district would be significantly further into the fiscal year “with no idea if we have these funds or not,” he said.

The bill will need to be approved by the House, Senate and governor to become law.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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