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URGENT - Local Government Study Commission Election Information


Posted Date: 
January 13, 2014
Contact: 
Harold Blattie, Executive Director, Montana Association of Counties AND Dan Clark, Director, MSU Local Government Center

June 2014 Study Commission Ballot Requirements

It is time once again to begin planning for the Montana Voter Review as mandated by  Article XI Section 9,of the Montana Constitution.  According to 7-3-173, MCA, ALL county and municipal governments must pass a resolution that calls for an election on the question of conducting a local government review and establishing a study commission every ten years.

This resolution must be passed and submitted to the County Elections Administrator by March 10, 2014,  and the question will subsequently appear on the ballot at the primary election held on June 3, 2014. 

The ballot language is mandated by 7-3-175 MCA:

7-3-175. Election on question of establishing study commission. (1) The question of conducting a local government review and establishing a study commission must be submitted to the electors in substantially the following form:

Vote for one:

[  ] FOR the review of the government of (insert name of local government) and the establishment and funding, not to exceed (insert dollar or mill amount), of a local government study commission consisting of (insert number of members) members to examine the government of (insert name of local government) and submit recommendations on the government.

[  ] AGAINST the review of the government of (insert name of local government) and the establishment and funding, not to exceed (insert dollar or mill amount), of a local government study commission consisting of (insert number of members) members to examine the government of (insert name of local government) and submit recommendations on the government.

NOTE: Your Resolution calling for the election must include the dollar amount or number of mills that will be permissively levied to fund the activities of the Study Commission.  Statute used to specify that 2-mills would be levied but that provision was amended in 1999 to make the levy "Subject to 15-10-420" which meant that the study commission had to be funded out of existing sources.  That provision was repealed in 2007 and language was added to say: "the local government may levy mills in excess of all other mill levies authorized by law to fund the appropriation for the support of the study commission" so the amount you include in the Resolution and Ballot language may be locally determined and is outside of your 15-10-420 levy limit.  Any money remaining in the Study Commission Fund at the end of the two year cycle reverts to the county or municipality's general fund.  We will work with you during your FY-15 budget process on budgeting  for the Study Commission.

Your Resolution must also specify the number of members to be elected.

ELECTION ADMINISTRATORS:  ALL Local Governments MUST place this question on the June 2014 Primary Election ballot so in addition to your county's governing body adoption of a resolution calling for the election EVERY municipality must also place this question on the June 2014 ballot.

If the voters decide in favor of conducting a local government review, the Study Commissioners will be elected during the general election on November 4, 2014 pursuant to 7-3-176 MCA.

After the study commission completes its work, any proposed changes to either your form of government or plan of government will be placed on the ballot for the voters to decide in the general election of November 2016.  Attached is a resolution template developed by the Local Government Center.  Feel free to use this to create your own resolution. NOTE:  MACo Recommends that ALL members of the Governing Body sign ALL resolutions. 

The Local Government Center at MSU will host an orientation and training in December of 2014 for all elected and/or appointed study commissioners.  The exact dates and location of this training are yet to be determined.  To help you estimate the expenses incurred by your study commissioners, the training will run from noon on Day 1 to noon on Day 2.  A $250 registration fee will be charged for each participant which includes a study commission handbook and resource material, lunch and a reception on Day 1 and breakfast and a boxed lunch on Day 2.  The cost of travel and lodging is the responsibility of each local government.  The Local Government Center will also be available to provide local training during the review process at a ½ day rate of $450 + travel expenses. 

More information on the Voter Review process will be presented at the MACo Spring District Meetings.  The Local Government Center is also creating web-based educational tools that will be available in the near future.  If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to give us or the Local Government Center a call. Contact information is below.

Harold Blattie, Executive Director, Montana Association of Counties
2715 Skyway Drive, Helena, MT 59602
(406) 449-4360 (W)  |  (406) 698-0939 (C)  |  (406) 442-5238 (F) hblattie@mtcounties.org | www.mtcounties.org

Dan Clark, Director, MSU Local Government Center
Culbertson Hall 235-A, P.O. Box 170535, Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-6694 (W)  |  (406) 570-4259 (C)  |   (406) 994-1905 (F)
daniel.clark@montana.edu  |  msulocalgov.org