Butte-Silver Bow is exploring a public-private partnership for building an Uptown parking garage that could potentially have a new structure built a year ahead of schedule.
At least two California-based companies contacted the county about using a “P3” model. A private company builds infrastructure and leases it back to a public entity for a period during which it would cost that entity about the same as if they had to bond for the structure. After the lease, the public entity would assume ownership.
Community development director Karen Byrnes noted that any research is preliminary.
“It might be something interested to look at,” she said at Wednesday’s Urban Revitalization Agency board meeting.
The model has never been used in Montana but has been used in other states, Byrnes said.
Private companies would assume the up-front costs and argue that they’re more efficient.
“Their ability, they believe, is they can get it done cheaper,” Byrnes said.
So far the county has planned to use Tax Incremental Financing revenue from the new NorthWestern Energy building under construction at Park and Main Streets to fund the project. But the county has to wait for the building to start generating revenue before they can issue bonds, according to Byrnes.