Did you folks know that Metra has never made a profit since its conception?

We had John Ostlund, Yellowstone County commissioner, and MetraPark General Manager Tim Goodridge on air this morning to discuss the private management of Metra and its facilities and in that discussion learned that 2022 was the best year ever since it was built. For fiscal 2022, looks like a deficit of $800,000-$900,000.

The main focal point of the discussion is: Can private do it better than the county? Many things would have to be ironed out. They recently heard from privately managed facilities in Casper and Sioux Falls, both comparable to our markets. I asked if they are running profitably while still providing what the public wanted without a huge taxpayer subsidy. They did not have that information readily available.

First Interstate Arena - Metra Park Billings
Credit: Ashley Warren, Townsquare Media

The commissioners have the power to implement a policy of fiscal responsibility. In other words, instead of needing to supplement the budget with tax dollars, they could enact a policy that Metra has to pay its own way.

In Montana, we have it in our constitution that the state operates with a balanced budget. So the question really is, are we willing to all pay for recreational opportunities with our tax dollars?

Montana Talks logo
Get our free mobile app

I also asked if we had private management pay for all utilities, labor, insurance, and facility maintenance and upkeep to reduce tax-payer liability if they would be on board. I didn't get an answer; they would have to see it first.

No matter what in today's world, we ALL have to prioritize our spending and budgets, period. And like you, have to really think about what is the most important thing ...there's only so much to go around.

Here's our full audio from this morning if you'd like to listen:

See ya tomorrow at 5 a.m.

LOOK: Montana Fair At Night Under The Lights

Montana Fair is wrapping up, but we've got photos from Saturday Night at the fair!

Elle King at Montana Fair in Billings!

Friday, August 12th Elle King kicked off the Montana Fair 2022 Concert Series at First Interstate Arena in Billings, Montana! A great start to this year's fair!

Virtual Tour of the Montana State Fair

Come along with Nick Northern, as he documents his day at the Montana State Fair.

More From Montana Talks