Malmstrom Bond Issue Goes Down

A $3.2 million bond issue in Cascade County, Mont., conceived to help preserve the option of regaining a flying mission for Malmstrom Air Force Base, went down to defeat Tuesday by about a 2:1 margin, according to local Montana news sources. The Great Falls Tribune reported yesterday (requires free registration) that the measure “was handily defeated,” losing by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent margin, with 97 percent of the votes tallied. Montana’s KRTV TV news station also reported yesterday that the bond issue was voted down sharply. The measure, if approved, would have authorized county commissioners to issue $3.2 million in general obligation bonds to acquire the rights to develop land at the southern tip of Malmstrom’s runway. The aim was to prevent a proposed housing development that would present an encroachment issue for Malmstrom and essentially thwart efforts to acquire a new flying mission for the base. The Great Falls Tribune quoted Cascade County Commissioner Joe Briggs as saying he was “disappointed, but not surprised” that the measure was defeated, acknowledging that some local residents had “raised legitimate concerns about the bond issue, a tool we haven’t used here before.” This included reservations about compensating the landowners. The measure would have cost an owner of a $100,000 home about $10 a year, supporters said during the run-up to the election. Malmstrom has not had a flying mission since its KC-135 tankers left in 1996. Regaining one is seen as partially offsetting the loss of the base’s 564th Missile Squadron in August as part of US policy to reduce the size of the Minuteman III ICBM fleet from 500 to 450.