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An effort to fix MetraPark's leaking roof with help from countywide mill levy held a slim lead in incomplete returns Tuesday evening.

With 69 of 69 precincts reporting, the MetraPark roof levy passed, with 14,207 in favor, 13,254 opposed. The county commissioners are asking taxpayers to ante up $1.5 million in the one-year levy.

The MetraPark Arena's roof hasn't been replaced in about 20 years. After leaks started showing up last year, the county commissioners declared the need for emergency repairs and passed a resolution asking voters for the levy.

The temporary tax increase, to be assessed only during the 2007 tax year, would amount to about $14.12 for the owner of a house worth $100,000.

The $1.5 million price tag for replacing the roof is based on a roofing consultant's estimate, and commissioners hoped that their straightforward approach to obtaining needed repairs would pass muster with taxpayers.

The MetraPark Arena turned 30 years old last year and has begun to show its age. MetraPark's staff, the advisory board and the commissioners have compiled a lengthy list of capital needs for the facility. But the new roof was the single largest project on MetraPark's list.

Before the election, rumors circulated that disgruntled hockey fans would stage a behind-the-scenes "kill the roof" campaign after MetraPark failed to reach a new contract with the Billings Bulls hockey team.

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