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97th Annual MACo Conference Minutes


General Session - Monday, September 25, 2006

Bozeman, Montana

Doug Kaercher, MACo President, Hill County

The 97th Annual Conference of the Montana Association of Counties opened at 8:35 am. President Kaercher introduced the head table:

  • Paddy Trusler, Parliamentarian, Lake County
  • John Prinkki, Vice President, Carbon County
  • Allan Underdal, Fiscal Officer, Toole County
  • Bill Kennedy, Past President, Yellowstone County
  • Cynthia Johnson, Second Vice President, Pondera County
  • Greg Chilcott, Urban Representative, Ravalli County

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Warren Hiebert conducted the Invocation.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presented the Colors for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jeff Kraus, Mayor of Bozeman, welcomed the delegates. He also explained the importance of attending a MACo conference. President Kaercher responded with gratitude for the hospitality and support.

Roll Call

Allan Underdal, MACo Fiscal Officer, Toole County

After the role call was taken, Allan Underdal announced a quorum was present to conduct business.

Memorial Resolution

Commissioner John Vincent, Gallatin County

Gary Hall, Flathead County moved to adopt the Memorial Resolution. The motion was seconded and passed by unanimous consent.

Resolution in Memoriam

Whereas, the members of the Montana Association of Counties, with great sorrow and a deep sense of loss, wish to remember and honor those members who have been taken by death since the last annual conference of our Association; and

Whereas, each of these county commissioners has rendered innumerable public services to his or her respective county, to the State of Montana, and to the people thereof; and

Whereas, the absence of these persons is keenly felt as a great personal loss to their families, friends, and colleagues:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Montana Association of Counties in conference duly assembled in Bozeman, Montana, this 25th day of September 2006, that the association does hereby pay tribute to the memory of the commissioners:

  • James Straw, Yellowstone County
  • Otto Jenson, Fergus County
  • Kay Beck, Powell County
  • Charles (Charlie) Rock, Mineral County
  • Andreas (Andy) Grande, Meagher County,
  • Bill Rappold, Pondera County

And on behalf of its members and the citizens of the State of Montana, does herby express gratitude for their achievements and contributions to the public good of their counties and to Montana.

Nominations for Second Vice President

Doug Kaercher, President

Second VP nominations were announced: Lance Olson, Cascade County; Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County; Jean Curtiss, Missoula County; John Ostlund, Yellowstone County. Jean Curtiss and Lance Olson both withdrew their nominations. The name forwarded for nomination for the office of Past President was Doug Kaercher; for the office of President, John Prinkki; for the office of First Vice President Cyndi Johnson; for the office of Second Vice President, Mike McGinley and John Ostlund; and for the office of Fiscal Officer, Allan Underdal.

President Kaercher asked if there were other nominations from the floor for any of these positions. There were not any more nominations at that current time. Nominations remained open until the business meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Candidates for Second VP were invited to speak.

John Ostlund, Yellowstone County

I want to tell you how much I truly appreciate your nominations; it is an honor. I think I have a fairly thorough background in transportation. I do have to thank my fellow commissioners for allowing me the time, because this option does take a lot of time. I have some experience in the legislature—we worked our way through some tough legislation four years ago with the contractor bills—and I would like to expand on that. I come from an Ag family; therefore, I have a good rural background. Coming from the most populated city in Montana, I also understand urban needs. At any rate, I have enjoyed being a commissioner and appreciate the opportunity to run for Second Vice President. This is a great group of people, and I pledge to represent you very well if I get the opportunity. Thank you very much.

Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County

After the marathon yesterday, the term “running for office” has a new meaning. I would also like to thank the people from Districts 8, 9, and 12 who nominated me for Second VP. I take this as an honor and think I’m well prepared to take the job. I am a firm believer in the MACo organization and the strength it brings us when we are together. I’ve been on the Public Lands Committee since it first came to be, and I’ve also been on the Economic Development Committee. I’m a firm believer in the New Commissioner Trainings as well as the Commissioners Certification. I really hope to carry forward those kinds of projects that strengthen this board.

When I went to NACo’s last couple of meetings, I picked up some ideas from across the country that I’d really like to promote on my platform. One is to really commit to help Sheryl and the staff put together a for-profit arm for MACo. Sheryl has been trying to work with the sponsors so that we can have a little more cash flow to carry on the organization. I appreciate this nomination and the chance to be here, and I appreciate your support. If there are any questions, I’ll be around for all of the conference. I’ll see you Wednesday. Thanks.

2008 Conference Bids

Doug Kaercher, President

The 2007 conference will be held in Great Falls and hosted by the Cascade County Commissioners. Lance Olson of Cascade County invited everyone to Great Falls.

There are two counties that have submitted bids for the 2008 conference: Flathead and Ravalli. Betty Lund, Greg Chilcott, and Alan Thompson from Ravalli County described their facilities and extra curricular activities. Then Gary Hall from Flathead County described his facilities, which includes the new Hilton Garden Inn. Gary asked PJ Wright, Sales Manager for the Hilton Garden Inn, to describe the hotel’s meeting rooms and suites.

President Kaercher thanked both counties for their bids.

President’s Report

Doug Kaercher, President

When I ran for office as President last year, it was during a transition time. We had a fairly new executive director, and we had not yet hired an associate director. We were looking at bringing claims in-house as well as constructing a new building. I thought it was probably a good idea to bring the board of directors together for a planning session. We needed to take a look at MACo’s core services and goals. This exercise was insightful. We found that MACo is, in fact, listening to its members and meeting their needs as well as the expectations of the counties.

We began building on MACo’s strengths: we listened when we were told to pursue alternative funding sources; and we cultivated a partnership with the state through the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, and the Secretary of State, which is allowing us to be heard at the Federal level as well as benefiting the welfare of the whole state.

We are cultivating our sponsorships with the vendors—both old and new—thanks to Sheryl. She has a book on possible new vendors and sponsors who are willing to believe in MACo and make us the best Association in the state. They share in our belief that counties matter, and we are going to make a difference now and in the future.

We listened to staff and completed a staff classification and compensation study. This study resulted in new job descriptions and salary adjustments, which should produce happier and more productive employees.

We listened when counties needed an alternative health care, which led to the successful creation of the MACo Health Care Trust. We are now up to 15 members.

We were listening when members needed better service from the Insurance Trust, which resulted in bringing Claims in-house. This will save the Trust, and ultimately you as the members, $400,000 per year.

We added to our assets with a new, almost-completed insurance building. It’s a beautiful building and a nice addition to our complex by the Helena Regional Airport in Lewis & Clark County. We hope this joint partnership will make a healthier future for the Association.

MACo is your association, and you should feel proud of what you accomplished. I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve as your President. I have learned a great deal and made many friends. There are many differences in opinion on how to solve a problem, but most disagreements should not cloud our belief that we are one. Ultimately, we are all working toward a stronger, more prosperous Montana. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

MACo Proposed By-Law Amendments

Doug Kaercher, President

By Law change # 1-Section 3, Article 2: AFFILIATE MEMBERS: Affiliate members are individuals, businesses and organizations and agencies that make proper application, are approved for membership by to the Executive Director, and pay dues adopted by the Board of Directors and ratified by the membership. Affiliate members shall be entitled to receive services as determined by the Board of Directors. They shall have no floor or voting privileges.

By Law change #2-Section 3, Article 4: DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Board shall have the powers and duties to:

( point a) through g) remain the same)

h) present recommended dues increases and assessments, if any, to the membership at the annual conference for approval and adoption;

i) the Board may increase the dues schedule in an amount up to the annual COLA in any one year. Any increase above the annual COLA must be approved by the membership at the annual conference.

j) authorize an annual independent audit of the Association by a firm of certified public accountants;

k) function as the nominating committee and select at least two candidates each for the office of Second Vice President and Fiscal Officer. No candidate can be nominated and run for two offices simultaneously. Nominations may be made at district meetings of county commissioners and submitted to the Board;

l) amend the approved budget by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.

m) immediately disclose any conflict of interest prior to acting in any manner that may impinge upon their duty as a Board member, They shall also recuse themselves from any vote or decision involving said conflict.

By Law change #3-Article 5: DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Executive Director shall perform such duties as are assigned by the Board of Directors for implementing Association policy and shall be responsible to the Board. The Executive Director shall supervise the Association office and staff. The Board of Directors shall be responsible for an annual evaluation of the Executive Director

The Executive Director shall compile, publish, and maintain a “Staff Policy andProcedures Manual,” which shall be reviewed annually by the Board of Directors. The Staff Policies and Procedures Manual shall include a detailed job des­cription for the Executive Director and such other staff positions as may be created.

The Executive Director shall maintain detailed job descriptions for all positions.

The Executive Director shall maintain a policy manual, containing all Board and operational policies.

The Executive Director shall be responsible for the hiring and termination of staff personnel consistent with the “Staff Policies and Procedures Manual.” The Executive Director shall receive approval from the Board of Directors prior to creating any new permanent employment positions.

The hiring of an Associate Director shall be by the Executive Committee and the Executive Director with confirmation by the Board of Directors.

By Law change #4-Section 1, Article 6: RESOLUTIONS AND LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE

The Resolutions and Legislative Committee shall consist of at least five members. Members (one of whom shall be a member of the Board of Directors) are appointed by the President, subject to approval of the Board of Directors. The Committee members President shall select the chair­person from their own number. It shall be the duty of the Committee to develop resolutions and to receive resolutions from the Regional Districts and MACo staff. The Committee may consult other elected county officials to determine resolutions beneficial to county governments and work with those officials to promote beneficial resolutions. The Committee shall examine resolu­tions to be placed before the member­ship for proper form and content organize them by category, combine similar resolutions, and recommend prior­ities.

The Committee shall have legislation drafted as directed by resol­utions approved by the membership at the annual conference or special meetings and assist the Executive Director in securing sponsorship for the legislation. The Committee, together with the Executive Director, shall recommend to the Officers and the Board the response of the Association to all legislation affect­ing county government.

By Law change #5- Section 5, Article 9: ELECTIONS

The election of officers shall occur at the annual conference and be governed by the rule of majority – over 50% plus one of the entire votes cast. The ballot will be repeated in the event of the failure of a candidate to receive a majority with the nominee receiving the lowest number of votes removed from the ballot for purposes of the subsequent vote of the members.

Greg Chilcott, Ravalli Countymoved to suspend the rules. Cyndi Johnson, Pondera County seconded his motion. The motion passed.

Greg Chilcott, Ravalli County: “Under Section 3, DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES, on the first line, I would like to strike ‘have the power to.’ This makes it read correctly with Subsection ‘m.’ In Subsection ‘i’, I would like to strike ‘the board may’ and insert the words ‘at its discretion.’”

President Kaercher: “Under Section 3 of Article 4, right directly under DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES, the sentence says, ‘the board shall have the power to.’ Commissioner Chilcott’s proposal is to strike ‘have the power to.’ The line would read ‘the Board shall.’ His second proposal is under paragraph ‘i’ of that same section. Commissioner Chilcott proposes to strike ‘the board may’ and add in its place ‘at its discretion.’ From the top it would read ‘the board shall at its discretion increase the dues schedule in an amount up to the annual COLA in any one year.’ Both changes are to make it read correctly.”

Maureen Davey, Stillwater County moved to accept these changes. Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County seconded her motion.

Cyndi Johnson, Pondera County:Mr. President, I think that the intent of the phrase ‘have the power to’ really means that they ‘may.’ If we instead strike the phrase ‘shall have the power to’ and insert ‘may’ then all we have to do is delete ‘the board may’ in Subsection ‘i’. This means we do what we intend to do. By just leaving the word ‘shall,’ it actually causes us to have to do something.”

President Kaercher: Is there any further discussion? I believe if we make it read simply ‘may,’ then there are several things that wouldn’t seem to fit appropriately.”

Cyndi Johnson:Everything except Subsection ‘m’ would work.”

Joan Stahl, Rosebud County: “‘Any increase above the annual COLA must be approved by the membership at the Annual conference;’ annual conference was taken out. If there were an increase when would it be voted on?”

Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director: “Mr. President, Commissioners, the reason that this was put in there, if you will remember, was because two years ago at the Annual Conference there was discussion of a 25% one time dues assessment to restore reserves. The decision on that was deferred until the Midwinter Conference. That deferral really didn’t fit with the language of the By Laws, and if you think about the timing of our budget cycle, it may be more appropriate to present any potential dues increase to the membership at a Midwinter Conference rather than an Annual Conference. The reason we put that in there was to give more flexibility—to allow the membership to act at any time that they may want to.”

President Kaercher:The motion on the floor has been moved and seconded to strike the words ‘have the power to’ under Section 3, Article 4 and under paragraph ‘i’ of that same section delete the words‘the board may’ and insert ‘at its discretion.’ Is there any further discussion?”

Ted Coffman, Madison County:Mr. President, the heading is ‘Duties and Responsibilities.’ I don’t see why we have to mess with it at all. The Board shall have the power to do what it needs to do. If anything should be stricken, I think it should be ‘board.’”

Greg Chilcott: “I would like to amend my motion.”

Paddy Trusler, Parliamentarian: “You must withdraw your amendment.”

Greg Chilcott: “Mr. President, I would like to make a new motion to amend Article 4, Section 3, Subsection ‘i’. I would like to strike ‘the board may.’”

President Kaercher:Is everyone clear on the motion? The motion is to withdraw the original motion, and the only change Commissioner Chilcott is looking to make under Section 3, Article 4, in paragraph ‘i’ is the deletion of the phrase‘the board may.’ The motion is seconded. Is there any other discussion?”

Joe Briggs, Cascade County: “I’m concerned about that now, because it now reads, ‘shall have the power to increase the dues schedule in an amount up to the annual COLA in any one year.’ To me this makes that phrase a mandatory dues increase, and I don’t know if that was Greg’s intention. I am opposed to the motion as it stands.”

Greg Chilcott:I would like to withdraw my motion, and make another motion to add ‘at its discretion’ back.”

Ted Coffman, Madison County seconded the motion.

President Kaercher: The motion passed with no further discussion. The final vote of the By Laws will come on Wednesday.

Presentation of Resolutions

Mike Murray, Chair, Lewis & Cark County

If you wish to have a resolution separated, you need to make a motion to that effect. I will automatically go through reaffirmed resolutions, which would be resolutions 2000-25 through 2005-01. Are there any that you wish to have segregated? There being none; all reaffirmed resolutions will be voted for on Wednesday.

2006-01 Country of Origin - BSE Disease

Segregated by Maureen Davey, Stillwater County

  • 2006-02 Interim Study of Special Purpose Districts
  • 2006-03 Weed Control on State Lands
  • 2006-04 Mill Levy Elections
  • 2006-05 Junk Vehicle Disposal
  • 2006-06 Emergency Zoning
  • 2006-07 Exempt Threshold for Solid Waste Sites
  • 2006-08 Support for Aging Services and the Older Montanans Trust Fund
  • 2006-09 The Effects of CI-97 on Aging Services
  • 2006-10 Affirmation of the Gray Wolf as a Predator Species
  • 2006-11 Mail Ballot Elections
  • 2006-12 Wireless E-911
  • 2006-13 Appointment Rights to an Airport Authority
  • 2006-14 Summer Youth Employment
  • 2006-15 Legal Advertising & Printing Contracts
  • 2006-16 Bridge Depreciation Reserve Funds
  • 2006-17 Oath of Office
  • 2006-18 Compensated Absence Liability Fund
  • 2006-19 Construction of Bridge in Municipality - Election
  • 2006-20 Youth Court Costs
  • 2006-21 Live stock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Program

Segregated by Maureen Davey, Stillwater County

  • 2006-22 County Veterans Cemeteries
  • 2006-23 County Attorney Salaries & Benefits
  • 2006-24 Legislative Transparency Project
  • 2006-25 Imagery for the Nation
  • 2006-26 Increase Debt Limit
  • 2006-27 Amend and Simplify Collection of Impact Fees
  • 2006-28 Mobil/Manufactured Home Disposal Fee *Withdrawn
  • 2006-29 Independent Candidate Filing Deadline
  • 2006-30 County Purchase of Real Property
  • 2006-31 Public Sale of County Property
  • 2006-32 Replace the word “Squaw” on Local Geographical Features
  • 2006-33 Selection of Professional Services
  • 2006-34 Pre-Commitment Evaluations
  • 2006-35 Multiple Commissioner Vacancy
  • 2006-36 Public Health Statute Modernization
  • 2006-37 Presumptive Eligibility

Todd Devlin, Prairie Countymoved to suspend the rules to consider a resolution that did not pass out of the Resolutions Committee. Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Todd Devlin: “Theintent of the resolution is to ban non-wood bats from the State of Montana from baseball youth teams: ages 15 through 19 years old.“

Mike Murray:The Resolution Committee recommended a do not pass on a 4-2 vote. The committee felt that the American Legion should be free to run baseball the way they wish.”

Ed Tinsley:I would like to encourage any member to come to Mr. Devlin or myself in the meantime to discuss the issue.”

Mike Murray: There has been a mistake on resolution 2006-32: ‘Replace the word ‘Squaw’ on Local Geographical Features’ came out of the Board of Directors with a do not pass; therefore, that is not a valid resolution before you. That is withdrawn.”

President Kaercher: “If anyone else feels that they have a resolution that needs to come before the membership, we can also suspend the rules on Wednesday and bring them forward at that time.”

Executive Director’s Report

Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director

To say that this past year—15 months—has been a time of change is probably a gross understatement. Your association is really going through some very significant changes: in structure, operation, and in how we provide services to you. This is the 97th Annual Conference of the Association. What’s interesting is going back and looking at the minutes from the early days of the Association. What the commissioners at that time banded together to do, is pretty much the same mission that we are still here for: to provide services and legislative interaction on your behalf. This is a mission we should not waiver from.

In order to provide those services, a number of things have changed over the course of the past nearly 100 years. As we start preparing for the centennial celebration of the Association, I would encourage all of you to begin thinking about the activities and things that might be appropriate to commemorate and mark that occasion.

Of all the major changes that we have undergone, the most visible is in the area of the staff. As you all know Gordon left as Executive Director a year ago in July and moved into a one year transition position to deal with some changes in our insurance program, which I’ll touch upon later. There was a vacancy as I moved up to the Executive Director. My previous position was not filled until November; Sheryl Wood, who was the former Executive Secretary for the Yellowstone County Commissioners, came on board as our Associate Director. We changed the title, feeling that it was more appropriate for the duties and responsibilities in which that position had assumed over the years. I have to tell you that Sheryl’s organizational skills make me look really bad; but I also have to tell you that during the last month or so, looking in her office has been really gratifying, because it has been looking a little bit like mine.

As staff we felt that there were a number of Administrative-type things as well as policies that needed updating. We undertook—and have partially completed—a comprehensive overhaul of our Personnel Policy. The Board of Directors approved separating position descriptions from the Personnel Policy. This allows management to adjust job descriptions to fit the needs as well as the changes that positions may evolve into over time.

So as we moved on through the year, Oline left in April and went on into a position with the State of Montana. We went through several advertising attempts and finally ended up with a very large field of 34 applicants. We will come back to that in a few minutes. Then in mid-August, Marie retired and stayed on part time through the end of August working on the newsletter, which I might add was not completed when she left. So, myself—who has never seen Microsoft Front Page or Publisher—and Sheryl—who hadn’t had a whole lot of experience with them either—did manage to get a newsletter put together and out to you. We were fairly proud of ourselves given the level of expertise we both had combined.

The people that make MACo happen and make MACo work for you are the staff. I would like to introduce the staff that is here today and also those who are not.

You all know Sheryl Wood, our Associate Director; our Finance Officer, Patti Grosfield; our Conference Planner, Karen Houston; one of our newest employees, our Administrative Assistant, Kerissa Smith; and our newest employee, Publications Officer, Shantil Siaperas—Beaverhead County, you did a good job with her; our MACo Insurance Marketing Director, Greg Jackson. I would like to make note that Greg’s position has certainly been an evolving position this past year. Greg has taken an active role in the Work Comp program, which was not part of what he had done for us up to this point. He is doing a really great job for us, coordinating the efforts of both of the Pools.

Not with us today is Fran Monro, the Administrative Assistant for the two insurance pools. Next, our almost twenty year employee, MACo Risk Manager, Ray Barnicoat, who is retiring at the end of the year and who actually hasn’t given me a letter yet; but he said something about wanting to fish and make some saw dust and do things like that. We certainly need to recognize and appreciate Ray’s accomplishment and his dedication to the association for the past twenty years.

Next on the list is our Senior Loss Control Specialist, Emelia McEwen; another one of our new employees, our Loss Control Specialist, Fred Hanson. You are going to be seeing a lot of Fred. He’s going to be spending a lot of time on the road. He will be working with the Road Departments and Sheriff’s Departments, working on loss control and trying to help keep your losses and Work Comp claim factors down. Fred is going to be out there visiting with you a great deal. We can’t forget our ever-popular MACo Personnel Services Administrator, Jack Holstrom. I have to tell you, Jack will come into my office every once in a while, and he’ll say, “you can’t believe the phone call I just got.”

As all of you are aware, our Claims Processing—for our Work Comp and Property and Liability Pools—has moved in-house as of January 1st. In this department, we have our Claims Administrator, Keith Stapley; not with us today, Senior Claims Adjuster, Wendy Sesselman; Claims Adjuster, Bonnie Knopf; Assistant Claims Adjuster, Chris Holling; and another new employee to fill a position that has been vacant for well over a year, Laurie Goltry.

The Trustees, recognizing the incredible case and file load that our claims adjusters have, approved adding a staff position for another Claims Adjuster. By looking at their staff and claims levels, they are, for the most part, carrying about twice as much as the industry averages. To try to provide better service to you as far as getting claims taken care of, we have a position that is vacant right now but look to be filling it shortly.

There are a few other people who are important; they may not be employees, but they are providing services to you. Not with us today is our General Counsel, Norm Grosfield; our contract Land Use Attorney, as many of you know very well, Myra Shults.

With our new Health Care Trust, which was formed just over a year ago, we have not with us today, from the Montana School Service Foundation (MSSF), who serves as our Third Party Administrator for the Plan, Bob Robinson; and with us today is Owen Voigt, who many of you know is the MSSF Plan Administrator.

With that I would like to ask you to thank all of these people. They put in everything they can to provide services to you. We just couldn’t do it without their very, very hard work and dedication to you.

I’m not going to take very much more of your time, but there are two things that I would like to touch upon. In this past year, as I earlier mentioned, we have been working very hard trying to deal with Administrative things. One of the things we undertook was a compensation and classification study to see how our salaries compare in the market place. That was a large undertaking that took quite a bit of effort. We did get that completed, and we now have a plan in place that we can refer to when we look at salary adjustments in the years ahead.

We would also like to make special notice of changes related to our income and our ability to provide service. I have been a commissioner, and I am aware of how sensitive you are to dues increases. The staff and myself are committed to doing whatever we can to make sure we don’t have to find ourselves coming to you to with dues increases. We can do that by wiser spending and enhancing our revenue.

There are a couple ways that are very helpful in enhancing our revenue. One idea that I picked up from other State Association Executives relates to sponsorship programs. My counter part in state wide organizations, Dan Chadwick, Idaho Association of Counties, brings in over $100,000 a year in sponsorships to their Association. We are thinking about the additional services that we could provide to you with that kind of added revenue without increasing your dues. We know that there is a lot of potential out there. So, with that idea, Sheryl went out and pulled down everything she could find from every other state association and compiled it all together and presented it to our sponsors, members, and exhibitors for their consideration.

The way the program operated this year we have a couple bugs we learned about along the way that we will fine-tune and work out. Sheryl has spent an incredible amount of time on this. This is one of those tasks that just would not have gotten done otherwise. Please, when you are out there visiting with the vendors and sponsors thank them. We have a meeting scheduled with them tomorrow afternoon to get some feedback. They have lots of places to spend their advertising dollars. We need to make it worth their effort and time to be here.

Another one of our very important partners, and I would be greatly remiss if I didn’t mention them, is Nationwide Retirement Solutions—a long-term partner with the National Association of Counties and with MACo. They are certainly more than happy to come out and meet with you and to give you the tools you need to let your employees build and save for their retirement.

Another sorely underutilized partner is US Communities. The Association receives a very small percentage of the savings that you realize when you use US Communities purchasing. There are a few counties that are using US Communities a little bit. I want to give you an example. In the course of the construction of the new building, we had a choice whether to use building cabinets or to put in Steel Case products, modular, ergonomically designed workstations. Because of the US Communities program our discount was over $25,000. We were able to get good ergonomic workstations for just about the same amount of money we would have spent on installing a minimal amount of cabinetry. That should give you some idea of the amount of savings that are out there. If you have any questions, I can get you in contact with the right people.

We now need to look at the future. We have ways to do things and ways to reconsider how we do things. That is where you come in. Each and every one of you can pass along those bright ideas you come up with; that might be the next greatest thing since sliced bread. So what I would certainly ask and charge all of you with is when you think of things that we can do in order to do a better job in providing services to you or maybe an idea that works a little bit smarter, please pass those along to us. We don’t even begin to think that we have all the answers; we really appreciate those ideas and suggestions. I would like to thank the staff, the officers, and most importantly, I would like to thank all of you for giving me the opportunity for serving as your Executive Director.

Fiscal Report

Allan Underdal, Fiscal Officer, Toole County

The final numbers are in for the 2005-06 budget. There was a projected $17,000 loss for last year, but instead we had an excess of $135,000. Some reasons for this are staff vacancies, and a Work Comp budget transfer. A large part of the budget income is JPA Work Comp budget transfers and dues. At this point, dues are 100% for counties and about 93% for affiliate members. For the expense summary, the largest expense is payroll.

For 2007 we have collected about 35% of our income and have 16% in expenses. We usually have more expenses during a legislative year. Therefore, our budget for this year anticipates a $40,000 deficit; this is part of a two year cycle.

County Classification Schedule

Harold Blattie

County Classification schedules were passed out, and Harold discussed the upcoming changes.

Special Speakers

John Morrison, MT State Auditor

Mr. Morrison gave an update on the Insure Montana Program, which is a small business Health Insurance Program. This will go to the Legislature to ask for continuing funding through the Tobacco Tax and Special Revenue. He also spoke about the State Land Board and the publicity of lumber mills closing down because of the timber market and a shortage in terms of fiber that’s coming into the mills. According to the State Land Board, we are getting an adequate amount of timber to those mills. We are harvesting record amounts of timber from the State.

Becky Berger, 9-1-1 Program Manager

Becky Berger discussed some of the challenges that Montana has with 9-1-1, which includes getting the location of calls that come from wireless cell phones. Because Montana is a large state, the cost is very high to deploy emergency services.

She also talked about what is happening on the state level to take care of these challenges and the progress that has been made thus far as well as the upcoming legislative issues.

One of the bills going to the Legislature is a housekeeping bill. There are several parts to the bill: an administrative fee, the sunset clause, and prepaid wireless. This will clarify some of the Department of Revenue penalty and interest for service providers that collect penalties and do not remit to the State Department of Revenue in a timely manner.

Another bill is to increase the 9-1-1 surcharges on both wire line and wireless to $1.

Dan McGowan, Administrator, Disaster & Emergency Services

Mr. McGowan discussed three different areas: what is happening on the national level, the state level, and the local and tribal levels. He then spoke about the capabilities and thresholds of the different levels.

He also talked about the Governor’s Emergency Preparedness Summit, which is in the process of becoming a biennial event when the Legislature is not in town.

Committee Meetings

The following committees met separately after the General Session:

  • Agriculture Committee
  • Economic Development Committee
  • Health & Human Services Committee
  • Information Technology Committee
  • Justice & Public Safety Committee
  • Land Use Planning & Development Committee
  • Taxation, Finance & Budget Committee
  • Transportation Committee
  • Public Lands Committee
  • Urban Counties
  • Hard Rock Mining Counties
  • Oil, Gas & Coal Counties
  • CREB Group

97th Annual MACo Conference

>General Session - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Committee Reports

Agriculture Committee—Kathy Bessette, Chair, Hill Co.

We spent a lot of time discussing the resolution regarding BSE and recommended some changes. We also reaffirmed and discussed the Livestock Loss and Mitigation resolution, which will be segregated. We discussed the PILT resolution, which is 2004-15. We support this resolution with updates. The issues of concern that pop up every time we meet is wolves, water, and weeds. We also talked a little bit about shipping prices.

A concern of mine was the committee that is recommending looking at the re-evaluation of ag land; it is very important that we be involved in that. While in Washington DC, we discussed the importance of representation of ag producers, so people know the real story. It’s unfortunate, but when you get past the Mississippi, not too many people really think about producers. We keep working on that, both with MACo on the Ag Committee, the Public Lands Committee, and also Dave Shultz’s appointment on the Weed Committee—he does much work with Weed Control.

The committee also discussed having a session with Public Lands (or any other interested group of MACo commissioners with the Stock Growers and/or the Grain Growers) before we go into the session, that way we can go in united and not fight about bills or end up losing something that we could have used a little bit of support with.

We also discussed the concerns of those who have experienced the loss of their entire operations, so to speak—miles of fences, winter pastures, and such—through the fires that have gone through Stillwater County and other areas. We are working on such things as writing letters to possibly give a little boost to the afore mentioned people so that they can get a little help to continue their operations.

Economic Development Committee—Mike McGinley, Chair, Beaverhead Co.

The Economic Development Committee met twice this past year. In February we met with new committee members and tried to form our partnerships as we go forward with the Department of Commerce and the Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA), because there will be resolutions that are coming forward for either/or one of the two groups. (Both groups would like to know ahead of time so that there won’t be any struggles during the Legislature.)

At that time Joe McClure, from Billings and the Economic Development Director, wanted MEDA to be the liaison to the MACo Economic Development Committee. And, visa versa, I was put on MEDA’s Legislative Committee so we could watch the resolutions and track how they would work together.

For the Spring meeting, we were in the South East corner of Montana. We went through some of the concerns and ended up sending a letter of support to the Governor. The Coal Bed Natural Gas Methane situation was brought forth. When we met we brought forward the MEDA Legislation. They are carrying the Legislation forward, and the MACo Economic Development Committee is watching their resolution to see when we can voice our support for it.

They brought forward their number one resolution, and they are saving some extra funding for the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and Micro Business Loans. Our Economic Development Committee agreed to support that. We won’t carry the resolutions but will support MEDA in those.

There was alot of commerce legislation and some from Department of Agriculture and Economic Development programs. They’re looking to go forward in this session to do away with the sunset clauses. The programs are working well; this is an area that we don’t want to wait on until 2009—right up until the sunsets end. They’re going to go with some legislation to hopefully eliminate the sunsets to those programs that are working well. We listened to Lieutenant Governor Bohlinger on Economic Development; economic activity has been on the increase in Montana the last three or four years. Natural resources are growing, and the energy crisis has definitely helped Montana. It has been shown that in previous years everything is going to be high tech—lets get the high tech companies in—but it takes a boom, or something similar, to show how important Montana’s natural resources are. In the Economic Development Committee, we covered a broad range of the committees such as the Ag Committee and the Energy Committee.

A big resolution that split the committee, which the committee decided not to support, is the local option sales tax, which has been talked about for a long time. There are alot of different concerns about a local options sales tax. If options sales tax were passed in Eastern Montana, it might be cheaper for North Dakotans to go across the state and get the waiver and not have to pay any sales tax. There are many details that need to be worked out. The MACo Economic Development Committee does not support the local option sales tax and prefers that the counties make their own decisions based on testimonies in the Legislature.

The forth one is the special appropriation for incumbent employees’ training. There are many programs for new employees to transfer over. There is a situation on incumbent employees trying to better their situation; this will help the incumbent employees.

Next, we discussed changing the title of the committee to match the national committee. We would rename the committee Community and Economic Development Committee. At the national level, our biggest concern is community development. That takes in consideration the CBEG funding, which was the battle at National this year. We are looking into tweaking our committee a little bit. The name change will match the national title and we are going to work on our policy statement, vision statement, and that which our committee is charged to do.

We are going to bring one resolution, which we had a year ago on the Mariah Hypersonic Wind Tunnel, forward on the floor.

Health & Human Services Committee—Bill Kennedy, Chair, Yellowstone Co.

We had a good meeting, with 20 to 25 people as well as a majority of the Mental Health Center Directors. We had the full committee, including Kathy McGowan, and Anna Whiting-Sorrell from the Governor’s Office.

I would like to go through the resolutions that were discussed. There are two resolutions that are going to come before you. On the sheet of resolutions, we have Communities as a Focal Point for Mental Health Services that we passed in 2002, and we are going to recommend high priority for that again. We also have Retain Control of Substance Abuse Funds, which went three sessions ago and tied up the million dollars. Those alcohol dollars go back to the counties and those dollars are at your discretion to get in-state certified programs. We are going to keep that a high priority. We also have two Aging Services resolutions—Aging Services and the Older Montana’s Trust Fund—that we will be supporting. Both of those resolutions have gone forward.

We had Jane Smilie, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, here yesterday. They have two bills going to the Legislature to change Public Health Statutes. What they are actually doing is cleaning up the old statutes that have been around for a long time. It really isn’t anything that makes major changes; they’re just cleaning up the statues like they did a couple years ago for Chapter Seven. It’s not our bill, but we are going to support it.

We also talked about the pre-commitment evaluations. I’m just going to quickly go through the pre-commitment evaluations. We have many consumers as well as providers in the community that belong to the Service Area Authorities. They are pushing a presumptive eligibility bill where the state would pay the first 72 hours for any type of evaluation in any type of facility, in-patient or outpatient (the state has it that they pay for the first 72 hours in a hospital). The three Service Area Authorities across the state came back and said last week at the Interim Committee that they would pay for both 72 hours of in-patient or outpatient services. That means that the Community Centers, which are service providers, will also be part of that mix for the 72 hours. The Committee backed the SAA. MACo will support legislation that SAA is proposing for presumptive eligibility, following the individual for 72 hours for in-patient or outpatient services.

The other resolution is the Pre-Commitment Evaluation. The intent of MACo is to support pre-commitment evaluation eligibility costs. Counties across the state of Montana are paying pre-commitment costs anywhere from three days to 45 days. As the statute reads, you are responsible for a pre-commitment evaluation for someone going into a facility before the commitment to Warm Springs State Hospital. What we decided to do is go forward with this resolution and a piece of legislation. Counties will pay pre-commitment costs related to the decision to commit the seriously ill. Montana counties have experienced evaluations ranging from three days to more than 45 days. Counties would like to see consumers stay in their communities to services instead of being at the Montana State Hospital.

Hill County had a commitment that cost $60,000; Judith Basin County had a commitment that cost them over $45,000; Yellowstone County had a commitment that was $25,000. You can see that the commitment cost is fairly high. We are trying to cap the evaluation process, because the evaluation is what you are responsible for. In support of this bill is the County Attorneys Association and the SAA. We are hoping for the support of the Community Health Directors.

The Health & Human Services Committee met last week at the interim committee. Kathy McGowan and the Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association also attended. They were concerned about a proposal that was brought up, which is the transportation of individuals with mental illness. The committee is pushing a bill about restraints. The concern for this with the Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and MACo is the liability problems, which come from the transportation issue. It was killed in the interim committee but may be coming back. What was said to Mrs. McGowan and the Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association was that we would sit down with them if this became a reality and look at what the liability is for the counties. I plan on being at the next session and working on the Heath and Human Services issues.

Information Technology Committee—Mark Rehbein, Chair, Richland Co.

We give whole-hearted support to Land Photographing, resolution 2006-25. We were informed that there would be a grant Committee Forum that will divide the criteria for the first grants. There is about $500,000 that is going to be available, but there may be more by the time we get there. The committee that will divide the criteria will have that in writing for publication on the Department of Administration website by January 15th, 2007. Any grant applications need to be into the Department of Administration by February 15th, 2007. The grants will be graded and you will be notified after May 15th of the outcome.

Becky Berger gave us more information on the E-9-1-1 program.

Justice & Public Safety Committee—Ed Tinsley, Vice Chair, Lewis & Clark Co.

Resolution 2000-25 is an old resolution that has been on the books for a while. It is about detention costs for the Department of Correction inmates. We brought it into our committee and recommended a do pass. We did have both County Attorney pay issues, resolution 2003-4 and recommended a do not pass. Instead a new resolution was offered in its place, 2006-23 County Attorney Salaries & Benefits, which has the support of the County Attorney Association as well. Finally we had Youth Court Costs, resolution 2006-20. The committee offered it as a do pass for the resolution meeting tomorrow. The last one we had was the Montana state wide public safety wireless E-911 deployment cost recovery, Resolution 2006-12, and we offered that as a do pass.

Land Use Planning & Development Committee—Paddy Trusler, Chair, Lake Co.

We had a very nice presentation from the representative from DNRC concerning new flood plain mapping. I don’t know if many of you are familiar with the maps that we currently have—which are awful and hard to distinguish—but they are trying to do something about them. There is schedule of counties to be remapped. A majority of counties being remapped are in the western part of Montana, which is because of development pressures. (I think they have realized that those are a higher priority.)

There really was only one issue in the form of resolutions that we talked about. It had to do with emergency zoning. Myra Shults attended the meeting and helped change the language a little bit. Everything was changed so that it would follow the statute. Some of the fast growing counties realized that they don’t always have the tools they need to deal with particular issues. That resolution gives counties the same authority as municipalities as far as interim zoning is concerned.

Lastly we talked about two pieces of pending legislation. LC-3000 is available on the Montana Legislature website. Look at that; it will clarify some things. This was a SDAR effort, and it was very difficult. I don’t know how many times I have been down to Helena dealing with this, but we are close. The other Bill that is of interest is being developed in the House Joint Resolution Committee; LC-4000 clarifies responsibilities of the counties in their subdivision regulations as they pertain to building codes and standards.

Public Lands Committee—Connie Eissinger, Chair, McCone Co.

We had about 10 people at our meeting. We went through the resolutions that were assigned to us. Resolution 2004-27, Delisting the Gray Wolf in Montana as an endangered species, was reaffirmed. Resolution 2004-31, Water Rights Adjudication, was also reaffirmed. We voted to approve 2006-10, Affirmation of the Gray Wolf as a Predator Species. After much discussion we amended 2004-15, Equitable PILT Distribution, to include “and MACo” in the “now therefore be it resolved” paragraph. We passed it on a split vote, so it did not pass unanimously. We also discussed the Taylor Grazing Act dollars that are supposed to be returned to the district from which they originated. We need more information on this; Prairie County is going to do more research on this.

We also discussed DNRC’s isolated parcels. They have sold some isolated parcels in Garfield and Custer County. They are now looking to purchase acres in one big ranch that may be in a county that might take some land off the tax roll. We want to be aware of the issue.

Resolutions Committee—Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark Co.

There is no report but a reminder to submit any changes of the resolutions to Harold.

Taxation, Finance, & Budget Committee—Allan Underdal, Chair, Toole Co.

We had about seven people at our meeting. We spent the first half hour going over the budget in a little more detail and familiarizing ourselves with that. Then we went on to the resolutions. We had nine resolutions, so I will go over those quickly.

2004-01, Motor Home County Processing Fee: Missoula County Treasure pulled this. We recommended a do not pass.

2004-04, Optional Voting Authority in Road Levy Elections, extends the vote to the owners of agricultural property that do not reside in the district. We did concur a do pass with medium priority.

2004-23 had to do with the language of the State statute regarding the ability of the Local Government to allow individual fee per household to fund Parks and Recreation. That was a do not pass, and we concurred with that.

2006-02 seeks legislation to conduct a legislative interim study to look at laws concerning the creation, alteration, dissolution, rights of protest and operation, funding, and structure of special purpose districts and authorities. It was a do pass with high priority.

2006-04 is to raise the approximate number of mills. This will make legal what many counties are already doing. As Harold mentioned, when we move mill levy elections, the law says that you have to list dollars. Many counties have already put mills down instead of dollars, so this will allow both. We put a do pass with high priority.

2006-18 Establish Compensated Absence Liability Fund for counties, municipalities, and special districts. This will establish a fund to allow for sick leave and other benefits. Harold suggested that we possibly didn’t need this because of Senate Bill 301, which was passed during the last session. We thought it was best to leave well enough alone and recommended a do not pass.

2006-24 would provide legislation to fund public access for the televised proceedings of the Montana State Legislature. This asks for both funding from MACo and individual counties if they would like to contribute to this cause. We took no action on this and suggested that it be segregated for discussion at tomorrow’s meeting.

2006-27: this resolution amends and simplifies collection of impact fees by county government. We suggested that it was a do pass with medium priority.

The last one is 2006-31: increase the threshold for counties to sell county property without advertising for bid. At this point the threshold is $25,000 and would be changed to $10,000. We felt that maybe it was better left at $25,000; this way counties are able to get better dollars for their equipment. It also takes out the public scrutiny. If an item doesn’t go out for bid, the public looks at it negatively. At this point we recommended a do not pass.

Transportation Committee—John Ostlund, Chair, Yellowstone Co.

We had several resolutions that we discussed. The first one is 2004-11, clarify the status of fences attached to bridges or cattle guards, and after much discussion we recommended a do pass as drafted. There is an ongoing lawsuit that calls for fences in a right of way, not a cross road, an encroachment; this bill will clear that up.

2004-34 is the Montana Department of Transportation indirect cost exemption. We recommend this as a do pass as drafted. At the time this was written, the indirect clause was 12.38%, and this reduces the amount of projects that can be done because of the indirect cost that will go back to the State. I understand that the cost has dropped to 10%, but we still are going to ask that this be moved forward and not pay that cost. We want to try to keep that money flowing into projects.

2006-16 is to eliminate the limitation on county road and bridge depreciation funds. This is kind of a clean up legislation. Right now the maximum is $500,000. Counties can save for bridges, road graders, or other equipment that they need to buy. It’s not nearly enough in today’s market when graders cost a quarter of a million dollars each. What we are going to do is ask to remove the cap on those funds. This came out of our committee as a do pass as drafted.

2006-19 is the repeal of the municipality bridge construction election. This is just old legislation that was brought to our attention. It requires that counties go to an election for bridges that cost over $10,000; a culvert costs more than that. We want to simply eliminate this legislation because none of us go out to election for replacement of bridges within a municipality. That was a do pass as drafted.

2004-04, Road Levy Elections, came out with mixed recommendations. After much discussion our committee recommended a do not pass, because it was determined or indicated that it might influence school elections or other ballot issues. We have a recommendation for 2004-04 on the optional voting authority, which will allow people who own land—but don’t live in the district—to vote on issues.

The last resolution was 2006-33. This is the selection of professional services. The counties are required to go out and get architectural estimates once a year, which is quite the process to go through. It is an expensive, time consuming process. We are just going to ask that we change one word in it to allow us to go out biennially; just add that one word so that we can go out every two years if that passes.

The last issue that came before us was a contractor issue. This is a re-occurring issue on open-cut mining permits. There will be some legislation coming forward on this. They want to fund a couple additional employees from the DEQ to do the inspections on gravel pits. After much discussion, we took a position statement because there isn’t any Legislation drafted. We, as counties, don’t pay any additional fees to support this. Of the county pits that are open long term, there aren’t any required inspections other than the inspections our county agents do. The Montana Contractors’ Association wants to address the issue of bonding. If they have a pit, and then want to close it, they want an inspector there right away so they can get their bond back. Eighty percent of these issues revolve around contractors. We are going to take a position statement that they need to fund that if they want faster service.

Afternoon Workshops

97th Annual MACo ConferenceThe following workshops will be held in the afternoon:

  • Public Health Statute Modernization Project/The Role of the Boards of Health
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations for CDL Holders
  • DNRC- Wildlife/Urban Interface
  • Treatment Courts
  • Pandemic Flu
  • PERS Defined Benefit Plan Review
  • Gravel Road Surface Stabilization
  • Treatment Courts- Continuation of the Earlier Session

Special Speakers

Dr. Doug Steele, Vice Provost & Director, MSU Extension Services Agreements

Dr. Steele talked about the uniqueness of Montana, the small communities, and the challenges faced by extension agents. He also talked about past legislative sessions, which included when they were able to get additional funding. This enabled them to put an extension agent in every county.

Dr. Steele also talked about the Horizons project; this project deals with poverty reduction through community building and leadership development. He also talked about the needs of rural areas. To help meet those needs, they have hired a couple of agents whose full time jobs are community and economic development. Next he talked about the need for better rural health. One step that they are taking to improve this is hiring a specialist in nursing. Another issue Dr. Steele discussed was Community Leadership and Development. In the next Legislative Session they are requesting additional funding for a Community Development specialist that can be placed out in the state.

Dr. Steele then discussed the mutual investment of extension agents and the cooperative agreement.

SIEC Update/Governance—Kathy Bessette, Hill Co. Commissioner and Scott Bradford, DOA, ITSD, PSSB Communication Technology Manager

Commissioner Bessette discussed how the SIEC was formed in 2002 as an Executive Order. It provided policy level direction related to planning, designing, and implementing guidelines. The SIEC deals with communication issues and consortiums that have formed all over the state. The SIEC also evaluates the best standards for solving Montana’s public safety communications and other inoperability problems. They make sure that first-responders are able to communicate. SIEC is working on better communication that everyone can understand. The purpose of this committee is to advise State and Local Governments and to assist with Interoperability Montana Project directors to complete the Homeland Security strategic plan for Montana’s Interoperability Communications by utilizing a strategy of standard based accomplishments/objectives.

Scott talked about the history of the Interoperability Montana Project and how 9/11 started a new emphasis for this area; there was a renewed vision for a regional and statewide effort. This included grants that were available from Homeland security.

The state of Montana’s role is to provide administrative and technical support for the Interoperability Montana director and technical committee. The technical committee was formed to eliminate all politics from technical decisions. The technical committee takes the most effective procedure and best use of money to make recommendations to the director.

There is a Governance Committee that is using the $50,000 grant to develop a long-term plan for managing the program. It involves a majority of the leadership coming from local agencies, which includes federal partners, local, state, tribal partners, and assistance from Montana State University.

Special Announcement

Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director

County Treasurers are sending out information on entitlement share payments, which as of the middle of September are not exactly what we thought it would be. The original numbers were calculated, then Chief Legal Counsel of the Legislature, Greg Petesch, determined that the Department had calculated using the wrong methodology in proportioning the growth. They issued revised numbers on the 16th of June. Those numbers are on the MACo website. Because of Senate Bill 146, when six of the counties were audited, their entitlement share dollars were offset as a result of a negotiated settlement. Senate Bill 146 will be changing; the Department of Revenue jumped the gun and used the afore-said numbers to make the calculations that the payments were sent out on. The fact is the legislature has to pass the bill before they can do that. The fourth quarter payment will be an adjusted payment to reflect the actions of the legislature. For most counties it is not a lot, but for those six it is a significant amount.

The membership changed the By Laws of both pools to allow the annual meeting of the Joint Powers Authority and the Joint Powers Insurance Authority to be in January or February in conjunction with the Loss Control Conference. As a result of that, there are no trustee elections for either of those two pools during this Conference.

97th Annual MACo ConferenceImmediately upon taking office, the Executive Board of the Montana Association of Counties will become the Trustees of the Workers Compensation Pool. In accordance with the By Laws for the Property and Liability Pool, the President and First Vice President are the two positions that need to be filled. Commissioner Prinkki will continue as the Trustee for that Pool, and Commissioner Johnson will move into the other position as the First Vice President. There are four at large Trustees; two of those will be elected at the Loss Control Conference. Please do not hesitate to ask me any further questions.

For the Health Care Trust, the original Trustees were determined to be the Montana Association of Counties’ Executive Board. There are 15 Counties that are members of that pool, and there is a By Law proposal that will come before the membership today at 4 p.m. Assuming the passage of the bylaw proposal, the structure of the Trustees of the Health Care Trust will change to include the MACo President, First Vice President, and four Trustees elected at large, with the first elections being rotating terms. Assuming the By Law amendments pass, those 15 member counties will be electing those positions today. Then they will be having their first meeting at 5:30 p.m.

Special Speaker

Secondary Roads—Wayne Noem, Secondary Roads Engineer, Rail, Transit & Planning, MDT

During the 1989 legislature, the Transportation Bill was late getting signed and coming out. This bill increased the funding by 60% and also increased the Secondary Roads Program by 60%—up to $20.9 million. Between MDT and MACo, we decided that it was going to be hard to obligate all those funds, so they wanted to come up with a new system.

MACo and MDT drafted Senate Bill 333. This was passed in the 1999 session. One purpose of that bill was to put a specific value on how much MDT can put on capital construction and how much could be spent on pavement preservation. The minimum amount would be 65% on capital construction, and the remainder would be put on preventative maintenance on the existing pavement. Right now MDT maintains 62% of the roads that are on the secondary system, and in the last two years they have spent less then 25% of the secondary roads’ program dollars on maintaining those roads through pavement preservation projects.

Another purpose of the bill was that it proportioned differently at that time than what was previously done. Previously each county was given an amount from the program: 25% was given for land area, population, road mileage, and land value. The new way of dividing it was dropping the land value and adding in bridge square footage; they then reassigned a percentage that fit with each one.

MACo also said that they did not want to give up the ability to select projects that are going on the secondary system. Each county was given a vote in the district. They divided it up by MDT district; we have Missoula, Butte, Great Falls, Billings, and Glendive. Each county got one vote and MDT got two votes: one goes to the District Administrator and the other to the Secondary Roads Engineer.

They had to determine at that time what projects would be eligible. Obviously reconstruction projects and rehabilitation projects would be eligible. Some rehabilitation projects, including heavy milling and slope flattening, have some minor reconstruction. They also wanted to include some miscellaneous projects: intersection improvements, curb straightening, and railroad crossing improvements.

The method used to determine eligibility is called “choosing by advantages.” It puts numerical values on how to choose projects, which made it very equitable. We had identified the criteria and pulled up all the data that we were going to use. We then assigned values to proposed projects and came up with a priority list. After making our list the counties reviewed it to make sure this is what they wanted, and they were permitted to move things around if they wanted to. Everyone in that district agreed and voted on the priority list; everything was done on a simple majority vote.

>Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - General Session

Special Speakers

Department of Revenue—Dan Bucks, Director

97th Annual MACo ConferenceMr. Bucks talked about the approach to working with local governments and county governments. They have a strong commitment to service and to communicate and cooperate with all of the commissioners on a matter of mutual interest and concern.

Mr. Bucks talked about their commitment to service and their new computer system. Their new computer systems for taxation and for reappraisal both are on time and on budget.

Mr. Bucks then discussed proper tax compliance enforcement and collection. For the first time, the state and counties are working together to obtain owed taxes. He also talked about the informal review process ordinary for individuals and large companies.

The last issue that he spoke about was tax increment financing. He felt the time has come to clarify a number of uncertain issues that have been rising with tax increment financing and deal with some of the complexities and uncertainties that exist around it. There is legislation that will preserve the tool as well as simplify and clarify tax increment financing districts and provide for an orderly process of decision-making and deadlines. MACo will be a full partner in this legislation.

Cyndi Johnson, Pondera County—Report on County Leadership Institute

Commissioner Johnson talked about her trip to New York University for the County Leadership Institute. The purpose of this was to give elected officials a better understanding of their personal leadership styles and develop skills to become more effective at exercising leadership on county issues on local, regional, state, and even the national level. Its purpose was also to offer opportunities to the participant to collaborate on specific challenges with their fellow participants.

There were 24 members in the class. The workshops included exercising leadership, where they learned the difference between exercising authority and exercising leadership; it dealt with technical as apposed to adaptive problems. Another session was assessing leadership styles and how to use alternative styles. They also explored power relationships, the art of negotiation, working with the media, and trust.

Department of Transportation, Jim Lynch, Director

Mr. Lynch talked about the history of state support for Montana secondary highways and local roads. He discussed the status of the State Special Revenue Account, which included the funding sources and the account expenditures. Some of the expenditures are matching all federal-aid, state highway maintenance, Montana Highway Patrol, the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, farmers and other off-road users, reserves for ethanol, distribution to counties and cities, and Montana gas tax allocation. He also explained the formula used to distribute the funds.

Representative from Senator Burns’ Office and Senator Baucus’ Office

David Cobb for Senator Baucus’ Office

Letter from Senator Max Baucus:

97th Annual MACo ConferenceDear Friends,

Thank you for the invitation to join you for your annual meeting. I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but Senate business has me busy in Washington serving all of my 900,000 bosses.

I want to say a special hello to your outgoing President, my friend Doug Kaercher. Doug, you’ve done a wonderful job as MACo President. Good luck, and I look forward to seeing you in Hill County soon.

Also, I want to say a big hello to my good friend Bill Kennedy. Bill, I appreciate your friendship and all you do for our State and Yellowstone County.

I also want to commend all of you with MACo for the great job you’re doing serving the Big Sky state. All of you play a vital role in making our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family and I thank you for all you do. Keep up the good work!

I know that the number one issue for many of you is the PILT program. As many of you know, I’ve been a PILT supporter for many years and have co-sponsored legislation to fully fund this important program. This year was no different from others, and we had to fight PILT cuts. The Administration’s Budget would have cut PILT by 13%; however Congress fought back and has slated PILT to receive a $2 million increase over last year’s funding. This is a step in the right direction; you can count on me to try to secure additional funding for this very important program.

Another issue important to our state is developing wind energy projects. I was proud to author the Clean Renewable Energy Bond program. I know that there were some hurdles for Montana and CREBs, and I’m pleased that you’re working together with Governor Schweitzer and the Montana State Legislature to overcome them. Lessening our dependence on traditional energy sources and boosting energy production here at home is one of my top priorities. If there’s anything else I can do to help with this, please let me and/or my staff know.

Thank you again for all you do. Good luck with the rest of your meeting and I hope to see you all soon.

Sincerely,

Max

Misty Richardson for Senator Burns’ Office

Letter from Senator Conrad Burns

Dear Friends,

Thanks you for providing me with the opportunity to address your conference, and I apologize that Senate business in Washington, DC prevents me from attending.

I know many of you have expressed your thoughts to me about a number of important issues. As local officials, the welfare of our communities tops the priority list.

On my travels throughout the state, I have heard from many about the problems associated with methamphetamine abuse. In the Senate, I have introduced legislation aimed at meth prevention to help raise awareness of the negative impact meth has not only on an individual, but in their family and community as well. I have also introduced legislation aimed at increasing security on our borders to prevent meth trafficking. Montana has done much to get meth and its precursors put behind the pharmacy counter, but now meth cooks are bringing in both the raw ingredients and the final product from Canada and Mexico.

Local law enforcement should be given the tools they need to fight trafficking of meth and other narcotics. I have worked hard for increased funding for state and local law enforcement and have worked with the Drug Task Force, which often cross county lines, to identify and meet their needs.

In Montana we are experiencing record-low unemployment, and that trend of business development should continue. I’m pleased to announce that the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Steven Preston, will be making his inaugural trip to Montana next week. Though his time in Montana will be brief and limited to the Billings area, he will undoubtedly return again soon. I have worked with the SBA on a number of issues that are important to Montana and recently added a provision to its reauthorization bill to assist Montana’s rail shippers.

As you all know, rail competition is vital to Montana’s economic development. I thank MACo for its continued support of my legislation to bring reform to states like Montana that are captive to just one railroad. The provision that included in SBA reauthorization builds on that effort, and will allow the SBA to help small shippers bring cases and complaints to the STB. In addition, we are making progress on issues like fuel surcharges, grain shipments, anti-competitive practices in the industry, and small rate cases. Bringing reform to the rail industry is a slow and sometimes frustrating process, but one step at a time, we are making a difference. Your support in this effort has been instrumental, and I look forward to continuing the fight for a healthy, competitive rail network.

As Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, I have always worked aggressively to increase PILT funding as much as possible. As a former County Commissioner, I understand how important PILT dollars are for the day to day functioning of a county. If the tax base in a county is reduced by federal land holdings, the federal government has a responsibility to pay its fair share. Since I became Chairman in 2001 we have been successful in increasing PILT dollars every year. This year the President’s budget request was a disappointing $198 million, and I was able to include $235.1 million for PILT in the FY 2007 Interior Appropriations bill. I will continue to keep PILT funding as one of my very highest priorities as long as I am Montana’s Senator.

Montana also experienced devastating catastrophic wildfires this year. We are now left with decimated wildlife habitat, charred hillsides, and millions of board feet of dead, standing timber. Active forest management requires that restoration of these fragile soils and ecosystems begin as soon as possible. Unfortunately, restoration activities will be appealed, challenged, and litigated. We will end up arguing in the courtroom when we should be working in the forest. Pending legislation in the Senate will develop a more workable post-wildfire strategy. HR 4200 and S 2179 will address communities’ needs and ensure faster rehabilitation of natural resources.

These issues and many others will continue to play key roles in our government. I will do my best to ensure that they remain priorities and receive that attention and funding they deserve. Please don’t hesitate to contact me and/or my staff at any time for assistance. Thank you for your service, and enjoy the rest of your conference.

Sincerely,

Conrad Burns

United States Senate

Forums

I-154 Taking Initiative

Proponent: Travis Butcher  |  Opponent: Linda Stoll

Travis Butcher: “If zoning regulations change after property is bought, there is nothing that can be done. Where I-154 is not retroactive, it will not change any current zoning regulations. There are still provisions for nuances with health and safety regulations along with road access. Another part of I-154 is the damages that came about last fall with the Kelo decision. There is a standing court decision from 1996 that would disallow Kelo style takings. This will give a clear definition of where the use of eminent domain ends. Another point is the cost. The reality is, if you don’t steal, if you don’t take something from someone else, it doesn’t cost anything.”

The next point discussed was fraudulent petitioning. Mr. Butcher explained that at the day of the trial they were given no right of discovery on all the briefs and reports they brought. Several of the 44 petitioners that were claimed to be frauds were very unhappy about the claims. None of the individuals were contacted.

Mr. Butcher summarized saying, “The reasons to support I-154 are for a good, healthy industry and solid homes and families. For those types of people to move into the state and stay here, they have to know that when they make an investment, they are going to have the right to use that property and maintain the same rights that they had the day they bought it. If they are unsure, that makes for an unstable community and insecure future for our children.”

Linda Stoll: “I-154 is radical. It is a trap for taxpayers. It is going to be costly and unnecessary. People who don’t like government are promoting this.” Ms. Stoll explained the choices of a commissioner if this is passed. If a property owner doesn’t like a new regulation or feels like he/she has been damaged by some regulation, they can demand payment equal to the amount of money they think they could have made without the regulation. As a County Commissioner you can exempt that individual from that regulation. A County Commissioner can repeal that regulation entirely, or you can pay that person, within 90 days, the amount that they have demanded. A property owner’s only requirement is to make a written demand with no documentation. There is no limit to the amount of the claim. If the governing body does not satisfy the written demand by providing the amount demanded for warranted compensation or permanently removing the regulation with 90 days, the prevailing owner shall have a cause of action for warranted compensation and shall be entitled to attorney fees, cost, and expenses incurred pursuing the action.”

The next point that Ms. Stoll discussed was the cost; it will cost local governments more because it will allow for more lawsuits. She also discussed eminent domain and the strict laws that prohibited it.

In conclusion a major concern is the unintended consequences that will lead to more lawsuits. Also, eminent domain doesn’t happen frequently.

The floor was opened up for questions:

Q- Mack Cole, Treasure County: “Have you done a lot of work looking at the current eminent domain laws we have here in the State of Montana for public use? Those laws have done very well in the State of Montana for many years. The other question is, you are familiar with term limits, and there is more than one issue on the ballot which is a violation as far as the Constitution is concerned, how would you address that?”

A- Travis Butcher: “I will address the first question about eminent domain. If you look at the history of I-154, there were actually three drafts before it was finished. It was looked at from a Constitutional standpoint, which we rejected for several reasons. One reason is that we believe the state legislature should be in a position to modify changes that happen. The second draft was to address the current Eminent Domain statutes for some of the industries that have everything at stake. So the way it was drafted, it was very conscious of the fact that we did not want to affect the current properties of eminent domain. There isn’t conflict when you make a fair proposal and add something to it. It is pretty hard to turn down.

Now I will address the second question. It statuary, but the reality is we are dealing with economic damages either way. Whether it’s through Kelo taking, or through regulatory takings. That’s why we don’t believe there is a multiple issue problem with that.”

Q-Gary Hall, Flathead County: “Has any study been done at all about the financial impacts to specific counties, especially fast growing counties?”

A-Linda Stoll: “I’m not aware of any studies that have been done. The nature of the takings issue has been studied across the nation. I just read about a study that has come out that is related to similar initiatives.”

Q- Gary Hall: “I wasn’t particularly talking about the takings. I think the taking is a smoke screen; we are already covered. I’m talking about the cost to land divisions that get litigated to pay the landowner. What would that do to county budgets?”

A- Linda Stoll: “I think that most of you are covered by MACo’s Joint Insurance program.”

Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director: “But not for land use.”

Linda Stoll:“I think that is part of the problem here. No one knows it is one of the unknown consequences of passage. There are no standards for submitting claims.”

CI-97 -SOS Spending Limit Initiative

Proponent: Travis Butcher  |  Opponent: Eric Feaver

Travis Butcher: “When the state is responsible and does a good job about spending its money and is reasonable about the level of taxation they put on the local tax base, they make it easier for the cities/counties to collect funds. The state is competing for mill levy dollars and needs to be cautious and look at the reality that some of those dollars need to go back to the county. That will not happen unless there is a requirement. CI-97 deals with narrowing the state budget and discretionary spending of the State General Fund, which is about 38% of the State budget. That 38% would be allowed to increase with the rate of inflation and growth of population every year. It also includes a soft cap that will not ratchet down or ratchet back throughout recession.

Colorado has a spending cap, so they are a good example. They were able to grow a stronger economy because of it. Colorado can also attract high dollar investors. Then they have good high paying jobs. The business owners know that they are not going to be taxed too much in the future years. Montana does have a balanced budget amendment, but a balanced spending limit is not the same.

In summary, the reason to consider CI-97 is that it would create a good economy base as well as more opportunity for people willing to invest seriously in the state.”

Eric Feaver: “If CI-97 passes then all the proponents of our governmental expenditure will fall on you, and the ability to deal with our citizens’ needs will fall to you. The state will not be able to address the aspirations and expectations of our citizens.

The spending cap in Colorado failed. They are trying to repeal it. CI-97 proponents failed to prove where the state of Montana has overspent. The only place where the state might have overspent is in the school system. It has been a very long time since the schools have gotten any money. Where should the state cut next year? CI-97 proponents have not been able to identify a single Montana business that supports their issue. Who supports CI-97; who is Howard Rich? Why is he supporting CI-97? Proponents for CI-97 are beginning to acknowledge that Montana already has a balanced budget. This state can not spend what it does not have.”

The floor was opened up for questions:

Q- Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “Are you willing to disclose where the money is coming from? I would like to see a detailed list, because we, the County Commissioners, have to give out.”

A- Travis Butcher: “We reported every single campaign expenditure. It’s on reports; go look at CI-97. Secondly, Mr. Feaver goes on and on about this national effort. But he, accordingly to the National Labor Union website, received up to a million and a half dollars of out-of-state funds to fight me.”

Q- Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “Mr. Butcher, I didn’t ask that. I asked if you would be willing to report to us who has donated to your campaign, who has given you money. I would like to see a list.”

A- Travis Butcher: “It’s a private list. We have private owners. Just like any other nonprofit organization.”

Q- Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “So you are not willing to let us know who they are?”

A- Travis Butcher: “No.”

Roll Call

Allan Underdal, MACo Fiscal Officer, Toole County took roll.

After the roll call was taken, Allan Underdal announced a quorum was present to conduct business.

Nominations for 2007 Officers

Bill Kennedy, Yellowstone County,took nominations for Past President. There was one nomination, Doug Kaercher. No other nominations were brought forward. There was a motion to close the nominations. Alan Thompson, Ravalli County, seconded it. The motion passed.

97th Annual MACo ConferencePresident Kaercherasked for nominations for President. There is only one, John Prinkki, Carbon County. A motion is passed to close the nominations for President. Next, nominations for First Vice President were opened. Cyndi Johnson, Pondera County was the only nomination. A motion passed to close nominations for First Vice President.

A motion was made to elect Doug Kaercher, John Prinkki and Cyndi Johnson into their nominated positions. It was seconded and passed unanimously.

Nominations for Second Vice President

There are two nominations: Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County and John Ostlund, Yellowstone County. There were no other nominations brought forward and the nominations were closed. Both nominees were invited to give a small speech. Both candidates gave short speeches.

The ballots for Second Vice President were passed out to the voting delegates.

Special Speaker

While the ballots are being passed out and collected, Chris King, Petroleum County, talked about Historic Preservation. He talked about the Governor’s Advisory Board and the importance of historic buildings to tourism. He also discussed selling buildings to non-profit organizations and not being able to give the building to them.

Nominations for Second Vice President

President Kaercher

There were 52 ballots cast for Second Vice President. There needs to be 26 votes to make a majority. The new Second Vice President is Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County.

Conference Location for 2008

President Kaercher

There were two counties nominated for the 2008 Conference location: Flathead County and Ravalli County. Both counties were invited to come up and give a short presentation. Both counties gave presentations at this time. The ballots were passed out to the voting delegates. 50 ballots were handed out; there needs to be a majority plus one in order to pass the 2008 Conference location. The 2008 Conference will be in Ravalli County.

Resolution of Appreciation

President Kaercher

WHEREAS, the 2006 Annual Conference of the Montana Association of Counties is the 97th such meeting; and

WHEREAS, attendance of member counties marks its success; and

WHEREAS, the fine facilities in Bozeman made us feel welcome;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 97th Annual Conference of the Montana Association of Counties expresses its sincere appreciation for the sponsorship of this conference to the Gallatin County Commissioners, spouses, and staffs:

  • John and Peggy Vincent
  • Bill and Maggie Murdock
  • Joe and JoJo Skinner

The motion to accept the resolution was seconded and passed unanimously.

Letter of Advice

Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director

A Letter of Advice was issued today concerning whether MACo could enter into lobbying for either of these initiatives. In the past we have said that as an individual, commissioners may voice opinion and be involved in the debate as long as they do not use the publics’ time, equipment, and/or money.

The money that you pay to the Association as dues is public money. The question was, when it comes to MACo, does it loose its identity as public funds? Then, does the Association commit a violation to the code of ethics?

The response from the Attorney General’s Office is that the provisions of the Montana Codes Annotated, Code of Ethics, do not bind the Montana Association of Counties. Which means MACo cannot violate the Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics is related to people not organizations. Furthermore, you as members do not violate the Code of Ethics by authorizing the payment of MACo resources to be used in opposition or support of a ballot initiative. MACo can voice an opinion on a ballot initiative but not a candidate.

By Law Amendments

President Kaercher

These were the only changes that were voted on to be brought forward. There was a motion and a second to accept the changes as they are.

By Law change #2-Section 3, Article 4: DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Board shall have the powersand duties to:

(point a) through g) remain the same)

i) the Board may at its discretion increase the dues schedule in an amount up to the annual COLA in any one year. Any increase above the annual COLA must be approved by the membership at the annual conference.

m) immediately disclose any conflict of interest prior to acting in any manner that may impinge upon their duty as a Board member, They shall also recluse themselves from any vote or decision involving said conflict.

By Law change #3-Article 5: DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Executive Director shall compile, publish and maintain a “Staff Policy andProcedures Manual”, which shall be reviewed annually by the Board of Directors. The Staff Policies and Procedures Manual shall include a detailed job des­cription for the Executive Director and such other staff positions as may be created.

The Executive Director shall maintain detailed job descriptions for all positions.

The Executive Director shall maintain a policy manual, containing all Board and operational policies.

Richard Dunbar, Phillips County:Mr. President, at our board meeting on Sunday, when we looked at this, we were striking “at the annual conference.” I would like to put that back in. This is Section 3, Paragraph ‘i’ and ‘h’. The reason I would like to put it back in is because this is where I feel like we have all voting members of the counties. At another meeting we might not have all the counties represented.”

A motion is made and seconded to accept this change.

Jack Nesbit, Custer County: “Was it the intent of the board to have a mail out ballot?”

Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director: “The intent of the staff was to make the By Laws conform with what happened when we had the 25% one time assessment two years ago. The vote at the Annual Conference was deferred to the midwinter conference. With strict compliance with the bylaws the vote on that would have had to been differed until the fall Annual Meeting. That was the reason it was suggested.”

President Kaercher:All those in favor of the amendment to the motion to insert back in the Paragraph ‘h’ and ‘i’ of Section 3, Article 4 “at the annual conference” signify by saying Aye. It is a close vote; please show hands. The no’s have it.

Back to the original motion, is there any further question on the original motion to accept these changes? Hearing none, all those in favor signify by saying Aye. The motion passed.”

Resolutions

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County, Resolution Committee Chair

We are going to go through the reaffirmed resolutions and the segregated resolutions.

Segregated Reaffirmed Resolutions

2004-04 Optional Voting Authority in Road Levy Elections—Do Pass, Medium Priority

Motion to accept the Transportation Committee’s recommendation to do not pass by Bill Loehding, Carter County. It was second by Richard Dunbar, Phillips County.

Allan Underdal, Toole County, The Budget, Tax & Finance Committee: “We also had this resolution and recommended a do pass but not with strong feelings.”

John Ostlund, Yellowstone County, Transportation Committee Chair: “After a long discussion, we voted and decided to recommend a do not pass.”

Chris King, Petroleum County: “I just want to stress that commissioners may choose to include, but do not have to include, landowners.”

Further comment by the Budget, Tax & Finance Committee was that this is specific to a section of law regarding road levies only. Therefore, we thought it was an option and not mandatory. It could be useful in some situations where a commissioner made that decision.

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County, Resolution Committee Chair: “There is a motion on the floor to accept the recommendation to adopt the do not pass recommendation. Please signify by saying Aye. Opposed same. It’s a close vote; please show hands. The motion failed.”

Pat Eggebrecht, McCone County, moved to adopt a do pass recommendation. The motion is seconded by Ken Ronish, Fergus County. The motion passed.

2004-15 Equitable PILT Distribution–Do Pass, High Priority

Mark Rehbein, Richland County, moved to accept the recommendation. Richard Dunbar, Phillips County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County: “The committee assigned a high priority because it affects all the counties. Does anyone want to disagree or comment on that?”

Bill Leach, Prairie County: “I think part of the reason there is a do pass is that it touches on all subjects. If necessary they can be separated into two resolutions.”

2004-27 Delisting of the Gray Wolf in Montana-Do Pass, High Priority

Greg Chilcott, Ravalli County moved to accept the recommendation.

Connie Eissinger, McCone Countyseconded the motion.

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County: All in favor of the motion to pass, signify by saying aye; motion passed.

Mark Rehbein, Richland Countymoved to assign this high priority. The motion was seconded and passed.

Reaffirmed Resolutions

  • 2000-25 Detention Costs for Department of Correction Inmates—Do Pass
  • 2002-15 Exempt Levies Pledged Against Indebtedness—Do Not Pass
  • 2002-19 Communities as Focal Point for Mental Health Services—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2002-21 Retain Control of Substance Abuse Funds—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2002-24 Involuntary Commitment Expenses Paid by the State—Do Not Pass
  • 2003-04 County Attorney Pay Issue—Do Not Pass
  • 2004-01 Motor Homes County Processing Fee—Do Not Pass
  • 2004-04 Optional Voting Authority in Road Levy Elections—Do Pass, Medium Priority
  • 2004-06 Workforce Funding Governance—Do Not Pass
  • 2004-11 Clarify the Status of Fences Attached to Bridges—Do Pass
  • 2004-13 Support MEDA Legislative Proposals—Do Not Pass
  • 2004-15 Equitable PILT Distribution—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2004-19 Per Household Fee for Open Space Funding—Do Not Pass
  • 2004-20 Remove Opt-Out Provision for Park Districts—Do Pass, Low Priority
  • 2004-23 Per Household Fee to Fund Parks & Recreation—Do Not Pass
  • 2004-26 Amend Subdivision Regulations to Improve Parkland—Do Pass, Low Priority
  • 2004-27 Delisting the Gray Wolf in Montana—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2004-28 Uniform Penalties for Violations of Zoning Regulations—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2004-31 Water Rights Adjudication, Direction & Funding—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2004-34 MDOT Indirect Cost Exemption—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2005-01 Mariah Hypersonic Wind Tunnel—Do Pass, Low Priority

Ted Coffman, Madison County, moved to accept all of these recommendations.

John Ostlund, Yellowstone County, seconded the motion.

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County:The motion passed.

Segregated Affirmed Resolutions

2006-01 Country of Origin - BSE Disease—Do Pass, with an amendment, high priority

Kathy Bessette, Hill County: “This was brought forward while the border to Canada was closed. We did not want to leave the word ‘Canada’ in. The committee deleted every part of the resolution that contained Canada. We firmly oppose expanding its beef imports to the United State, which involves live cattle over the age of 30 months.”

Carl Seilstad, Fergus County, moved to accept the amendment.

Maureen Davey, Stillwater County, seconds the motion. The motion passed.

Mark Rehbein, Richland County moved to assign this high Priority.

Pat Eggebrecht, McCone County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

2006-06 Emergency Zoning—Do Pass, High Priority

Paddy Trusler, Lake County: “Sometimes you have little things come up in committee meetings when you have attorneys attend. This was done on the recommendation of Myra Shults, who is the Land Use Attorney for MACo. This is a housekeeping thing. It does not change the intent of the resolution.”

Carol Brooker, Sanders County, moved to accept recommendation with high priority. Greg Chilcott, Ravalli County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

2006-24 Legislative Transparency Project –Do Not Pass

Allan Underdal, Toole County: “This was sent to the Budget, Tax & Finance Committee. We did not put a do pass; we just wanted it segregated. If the legislative session was televised, it would only be on Bresnan and only certain areas receive Bresnan. We also talked about MACo’s budget being tight and thought that it would not be money well spent. Individual counties are also asked to contribute to this.”

Linda Stoll: “Everyone in Helena is able to watch the legislative session. We have had it as a goal of our organization to have statewide coverage. A concern that everyone seems to have is that this is a state function and that the state should have to pay for this. Our dilemma is that we have approached the state, and at this time the State of Montana has denied the funding for this. One way of moving this forward is to hook up with Bresnan. We can get the signal to Bresnan, which covers about 86% of the state in terms of the people who have cable. What we need now is to raise $60,000 between now and November 15th, because it requires us to enter into contract. In Helena this service has been phenomenally received. People love to watch the Legislature. With anyone who helps us, we will be running your county logo across the bottom. There is nothing I can say about not being able to bring this to everyone, but 86% is a good chunk for the first step.”

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County: “I also wanted to bring that up during the session: on the TV’s throughout the Capital, any sponsoring county will have your commercial running anytime a committee takes a break. That way everyone who is in the Capital building will be able to know that your county contributed.”

Joe Briggs, Cascade County: “I rise in opposition to this for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is a state function and when one considers the number of functions that we are being asked to pay for on behalf of the state it adds up. I just finished up a very ugly budget session and have no intention of going back in and coming up with more money to pay out of Cascade County’s residences’ taxes for a function that, if it should happen, it should happen at the legislature. There is $500 million in excess money that we keep hearing about. Why isn’t the Legislature funding this? I think that it is a good program to have; it is just a question of who should pay for it. We all have a number of problems in our counties, and I think that it is inappropriate for MACo dollars to go toward this. I think that it is inappropriate for 49 other counties to tell seven counties that we should have to pay for it. The penetration of cable television varies highly from county to county. In Cascade County, it is not that high outside the central city. I don’t think it’s appropriate to use Cascade County tax dollars.”

“Lastly, I have no doubt that it is very popular in Helena, but a large percentage of people in Helena work for state government or are supported by state government. I don’t think that it would be as popular in Great Falls, Belt or Cascade.”

Ted Coffman, Madison County: Moved that we do not pass this resolution. Richard Dunbar, Phillips County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

2006-33 Selection of Professional Services—Do Pass, with Amendments, High Priority

John Ostlund, Yellowstone County: “The Transportation Committee recommended a do pass with high priority. This is just to clean up Legislation that allows for biennial selection. It doesn’t change the intent of the legislation but allows for you not to have to do the work every year; you would be able to do the work every two years. When you request bids for architectural or engineering services, it is a lengthy process. This would just simplify that. Professional engineers support this too.”

John Ostlund, Yellowstone Countymoved to accept the resolution as a do pass with high priority. Betty Aye, Powder River County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

2006-34 Pre-Commitment Evaluations—Do Pass, High Priority

Bill Kennedy, Yellowstone County: “Go down to ‘Now, Therefore, be it Resolved, that MACo will support legislation that counties will pay from the date the commitment petition is filed by the County Attorney; and be it Further Resolved,that the evaluation payment period will be capped at 6 consecutive days.’ This is looking at your Pre-Commitment cost.”

Bill Kennedy, Yellowstone Countymoves for a do pass at high priority.

Ted Coffman, Madison County, seconded the motion. The motion passes.

2006-35 Multiple Commissioner Vacancy—Do Pass

Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County moves to accept the resolution, and is seconded by Gary Macdonald, Roosevelt County.

Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “I do disagree with the prior way the law was written, in that a judge has the authority to replace our untimely demised colleagues. I think there is a separation-of-powers argument here. We are a separate branch of government than the judiciary branch. We have elected officials that could take care of replacing us.”

Richard Dunbar, Phillips County: “I agree with what he said. We talked about having a compensation board added in or even another elected official. I move to add in a compensation board to appoint the commissioners.”

Ted Coffman, Madison County: “I’m concerned, because the compensation board must have two commissioners approve it; I’m suggesting that the majority of the quorum of the compensation board instead of just that.”

Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “I agree with that. We need two commissioners on the compensation board to act. We can make a special provision in our amendment here to allow a quorum to act on replacing commissioners. We would have County Commissioners on the board along with some elected citizens who are appointed by the commission.”

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County: “We have before us a motion to pass Resolution 2006-35. All in favor signify by saying Aye. The resolution must be passed before it can be amended. The motion passed.”

Dan Watson, Rosebud County: “Add in, ‘now, Therefore, be it Resolved, that the process to fill a vacancy shall be by a simple majority of a quorum of the current county compensation board.’”

Dan Watson, Rosebud County moved to amend the resolution.

Phil Hill, Garfield County, seconded the motion.

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County: “We are going to move on now so that we can get something written to bring before you.”

Ted Coffman, Madison County: “Does this take care of the counties with a charter government, like Fergus, Silver Bow and Anaconda–Deer Lodge Counties?”

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County: “You have the authority to appoint a board to make that decision.”

President Kaercher: “As a charter government you can set up your own process. The others can’t.”

Dan Watson, Rosebud County moved to accept the amendment.

Ed Tinsleyseconded the motion. Motion carried.

2006-36 Public Health Statute Modernization—Do Pass, High Priority

Bill Kennedy, Yellowstone County moved for a do pass with high priority. Mark Rehbein, Richland County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

2006-37 Presumptive Eligibility—Do Pass, High Priority

Bill Kennedy, Yellowstone County: “The only change we have on this is ‘now, therefore, be it resolved, MACo will support legislation that SAA’s are proposing for presumptive eligibility that follows the individual for 72 hours for out-patient and in-patient services.’”

Bill Kennedy, Yellowstone County moved to accept this Resolution with high priority. Carol Brooker, Sanders County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

2006-01 Country of Origin - BSE Disease—Do Pass, High Priority

Kathy Bessette, Hill County: Moved to remove “its” from this resolution.

Art Kleinjan, Blaine County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

  • 2006-02 Interim Study of Special Purpose Districts—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-03 Weed Control on State Lands—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-04 Mill Levy Elections—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-05 Junk Vehicle Disposal—Do Pass, Medium Priority
  • 2006-06 Interim Zoning—Do Pass as Amended, High Priority
  • 2006-07 Exempt Threshold for Solid Waste Sites—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-08 Support for Aging Services and the Older Montanans Trust Fund—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-09 The Effects of CI-97 on Aging Services—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-10 Affirmation of the Gray Wolf as a Predator Species—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-11 Mail Ballot Elections—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-12 Wireless E-911—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-13 Appointment Rights to an Airport Authority—Do Pass, Medium Priority

Joe Briggs, Cascade County, moved to change the priority to high.

Harvey Worrall, Chouteau County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

  • 2006-14 Summer Youth Employment—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-15 Legal Advertising & Printing Contracts—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-16 Bridge Depreciation Reserve Funds—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-17 Oath of Office—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-18 Compensated Absence Liability Fund—Do Not Pass
  • 2006-19 Construction of Bridge in Municipality-Election—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-20 Youth Court Costs—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-21 Live Stock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Program—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-22 County Veterans Cemeteries—Do Pass, Medium Priority
  • 2006-23 County Attorney Salaries & Benefits—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-24 Legislative Transparency Project—Do Not Pass
  • 2006-25 Imagery for the Nation—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-26 Increase Debt Limit—Do Pass, High Priority
  • 2006-27 Amend and Simplify Collection of Impact Fees—Do Pass, Medium Priority
  • 2006-29 Independent Candidate Filing Deadline—Do Pass, Medium Priority
  • 2006-30 County Purchase of Real Property—Do Pass, Medium Priority
  • 2006-31 Public Sale of County Property—Do Not Pass

Joe Briggs, Cascade County moved to accept the amended Resolutions 2006-01 through 2006-37. Greg Chilcott, Ravalli County, seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Todd Devlin, Prairie County: “I would like to move for the Montana Association of Counties to adopt a resolution that would prohibit the use of non-wood bats for the ages of 15- 19 years old in Montana.” Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County, seconded the motion.

Todd Devlin, Prairie County: “I’m going to support this Resolution. This is a safety issue for our constituents. If you are a rural county, you don’t have a baseball team or league. You have kids that are going to another county to play high school or a 15 to 19-year-old age group baseball team. It is also a liability issue. Our number one priority as County Commissioners is public safety, which equals constituent safety.”

“When this went to the Resolutions Committee it came out as a do not pass. I think that the reason was because we thought we were stepping on toes. Maybe this wasn’t our responsibility, but this is a public safety issue. My first reaction was to leave it be, but then I went and talked to Jack Holstrom. I asked Jack what I should do with this, if I should just drop it. He told me that it could be brought up as a safety issue, and there is evidence that this is a safety issue. You and Lewis & Clark County have to pursue this as far as you can take it so that you do not have liability.”

“So I got a 2/3 vote to bring it back onto the floor. My recommendation is to put this thing on the State Legislature’s back. Whether you think this is a public a safety issue or not, it is a liability issue as far as I’m concerned. The Legislature needs to take care of this. I am going to ask for a roll call vote.”

Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “I am a member of our local American Legion Post. There probably is a disagreement among the Legion members, but so be it. I played baseball in my younger days, and I am a coach for my son’s team. I have been coaching for the past three years, and I may not be coaching in the future for a different reason.“

“Commissioner Devlin was right on; this is a safety issue. Some of my more conservative friends might say that this is the government trying to reach too far. Lewis & Clark County gives 10 to 15 thousand dollars for baseball. We are liable if someone

dies during one of these games. You can never fully wave or diminish liability but can try to diminish it.”

“If you have a bad road with a bad curve and you know about it but don’t do anything about it and someone dies, you are liable. If you know that this could kill, and in Lewis & Clark County a couple years ago a kid was killed, Brandon Patch, who this bill is named after, and you don’t do anything about it there is increased liability. That is why we are bringing this forward.”

“One other reason for bringing this forward is I think as a baseball coach and a baseball fan this is the way baseball should be played: with wood bats.”

Bill Leach, Prairie County: “I’m a baseball coach; I coach my son. I would like to express my support for this resolution. There is precedence in 2007 in the state of North Dakota; there are 105 baseball teams that are all going toward all-wood baseball bats. I would encourage anyone to do a quick Internet search on the safety of wood bats. You will find a wealth of information that will really open your eyes.”

Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County: “What about the younger kids, the 14 year old group? Why are they still allowed to use the aluminum bats?”

Todd Devlin, Prairie County: “One of my main sources of information is a guy named Jim Regan from Miles City who has been doing a lot of research. Where the kids are getting hurt and killed since 2003 is pretty much in the 15 to19-year-old age group. These kids are stronger athletes. There are more kids in this age group with more potential to hit the ball.”

“The difference in the speeds of a baseball coming off a metal bat compared to a wooden bat is 12 miles per hour average. “

President Kaercher: “Why would Hill County have a liability? You guys give money, but if you wanted them to stop using metal bats then stop giving them money.”

Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “I have a liability because I have constituents who are in my county that are going to other counties. I feel that it is a safety issue. We could stop giving money, but I feel that the best way to deal with this problem is to fix it. Whether you vote for this or not, Lewis & Clark County took a proactive action to attempt to do something about this problem. If we have to go to court and a judge asks me what we tried to do about this, I can say that we made an attempt through MACo.”

Joe Briggs, Cascade County: “I hope that every time a constituent brings a potential safety matter to our attention it does not automatically create liability and discussion for us, because we will never be able to get back to our offices and our jobs. Consider the number of potential safety matters that occur every single day in our counties. If we take it upon ourselves to protect everyone from everything every time, what have we become? I have no intention of trying to make County Government that kind of cradle-to-grave safety net. It is impossible.”

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County: “All in favor of the motion for a do pass of the Resolution please signify by saying Aye. There will be a roll call vote. There are 25 yes, 14 no, and 5 abstaining. The motion passes. Because it is a statewide issue, it will be assigned a high priority.”

Dan Watson, Rosebud County moved to suspend the rules to consider one further resolution. Mike Anderson, Hill County, seconded the motion. There was a role call vote. There were 31 yes and 9 no. The motion passed to suspend the rules.

Dan Watson, Rosebud County: “The resolution that I’m proposing is titled Opposition to CI-97 and I-154. It will say, ‘Whereas, the Montana Attorney General has this day issued a letter of advice that the Montana Association of Counties is not prohibited from taking a position on initiatives to be presented to the Montana voters:

Now, Therefore, be it Resolved that the Montana Association of Counties does hereby go on public record as being in opposition to both Initiatives CI-97 and I-154.’”

Dan Watson, Rosebud Countymoves for a do pass on this resolutions.

Jim O’Hara, Chouteau County, seconded the motion.

Carl Seilstad, Fergus County: “I don’t support either initiative, and I don’t think that MACo should put their name on this, then have that group come back and fight the county on every issue that comes up. I think that they are going to throw this right back in our face.”

Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “I believe that this group by virtue of putting these resolutions forward is a formal assault on MACo, and I think that we need to stand up with colleges and other organizations who oppose this and show that we also oppose this.”

Joe Briggs, Cascade County: “My concern is for those of us who are down here as singletons, whose commission has not discussed this. I can’t vote for this because I don’t know how my other commissioners feel about it.”

Ed Tinsley, Lewis & Clark County: “Up until the point of that letter coming in nobody knew we could have an opinion. I think that you just have to go with your conscience.“

A roll call vote was conducted. The resolution passed with high priority, with 22 ayes and 11 no’s.

The 2006 Annual Conference was adjourned.