Don’t get me wrong — I love Bozeman. I moved here 26 years ago and never looked back. Having said that Bozeman has some issues from the top down.

There have been five city managers in the time I’ve lived in Bozeman. There have only been five due to the fact that one stayed 13 years before being kicked to the curb only to find a better position in Billings.

The latest employment carnage at City Hall is the resignation of current City Manager Andrea Surratt who is headed to Georgia after beating out 500 other candidates for a $122,000 yearly paycheck.

The more you pay the more come to play.

Money Is The Issue

Every taxpayer would like the best and brightest leading our fair city. Eighty-two people applied for the job that was eventually awarded to Surratt.

The stark facts are that Bozeman can’t pay for the best and brightest. It’s no one’s fault. It’s a simple fact of life.

I can’t blame Andrea Surratt leaving for a better opportunity in Sandy Springs, Georgia. However, the higher the turnover in Bozeman the harder it will be to attract the best to apply.

I doubt another 82 people will apply for the Bozeman City Manager job unless they’re the city manager of a city with a population of 2,000 or less.

Some Final Thoughts

Bozeman is a great place. No question about it. Beauty is everywhere. The people are the best I’ve ever know anywhere I’ve ever lived.

But the cold cruel facts are that until we grow out of our current pay scale, we can expect Bozeman to be a stepping stone to better opportunities for those who pass through our city just to pay their dues and pad their resume for future success.

Andrea Surratt is just the latest example of a two-year stopover on the way to a higher payday.

I don’t blame her; I don’t blame the city. It’s just a fact of life that while the best and brightest might be out there — what will convince them to stay here?

You can reach the KMMS Morning Soapbox with Tom and Shane 6am to 9am weekdays Mountain Time by calling 406-522-8255 during the show, use our new text line at 406-478-8298, or click the “App Chat” button on your AM 1450 KMMS app. Listen Live Online at

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