106th Annual MACo Conference Minutes (2015)

Opening General Session – Monday, September 21, 2015

Missoula, Montana

Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

The 106th Annual Conference of the Montana Association of Counties opened at 8:30 a.m. President Schulz  introduced the head table:

  • Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, President
  • Commissioner Maureen Davey, Stillwater County, 1st Vice President
  • Commissioner Todd Devlin, Prairie County, 2nd Vice President
  • Commissioner Joe Briggs, Cascade County, Immediate Past President
  • Commissioner Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County, Fiscal Officer
  • Commissioner John Prinkki, Carbon County, Parliamentarian

The Bill Hoffman, Scout Leader, and Boy Scout Troop 1960 presented the Colors for the Pledge of Allegiance And National Anthem.  The National Anthem was sung by Shirley Faust, Missoula County Clerk of Court.  Reverend Terri Ann Grotzinger, Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, conducted the Invocation.  The MACo members were then welcomed to the 106th Annual Conference in Missoula, Montana:

  • John Engen, Mayor of the city of Missoula, welcomed everyone.
  • Commissioner Davey responded with thanks for welcoming MACo to Missoula.

Roll Call

Commissioner Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County, MACo Fiscal Officer

After Roll call was taken, Commissioner McGinley announced a quorum was present to conduct business.

Approval of the 2014 Minutes – 105th Annual Conference

Motion/Vote: Commissioner Greg Chilcott, Ravalli County, made a motion to approve the 2014 Annual Conference minutes. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Jim Reno, Yellowstone County. The motion passed unanimously.

Resolution in Memoriam

Commissioner Cola Rowley, Missoula County

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 those 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 Missoula, Montana, this 21st day of September, 2015, that the Association does hereby pay tribute to the memory of Commissioners:

  • Dale Skaalure – Chouteau County (9/23/14)
  • Philip D. Hill – Garfield County (1/19/15)
  • Kenton Larson – McCone County (8/7/15)
  • Joe Christians – Pondera County (10/12/14)
  • Verner Laurits Bertelsen – Powell County (8/18/15)
  • Clifford A. Bare – Stillwater County (8/10/15)

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

The assembly was asked if there were additional names to be added to the Memorial Resolution (no further names brought forth).

Motion/Vote:  Commissioner Chilcott made a motion to adopt the Memorial Resolution. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Sandy Broesder, Pondera County. The motion passed unanimously.


Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

  • American Hero Quilting Project
  • Turn in commissioner bio sheets for committee appointments; this information also helps put together the MACo Directory.
  • Visit with exhibitors and get your sheet signed.
  • Nominations Committee Report

Nominations Committee Report

Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

The Board of Directors, acting as the Nominations Committee, brings forth the candidates for the 2016 year as follows:

  • Office of Immediate Past President:   Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County
  • Office of President: Commissioner Maureen Davey, Stillwater County
  • Office of 1st Vice President: Commissioner Todd Devlin, Prairie County
  • Office of 2nd Vice President: Commissioner Bill Barron, Lake County
  • Office of Fiscal Officer:  Commissioner Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County

President Schulz asked for any other nominations and noted that nominations would remain open until the Wednesday General Session. No further nominations were made, and President Schulz invited the nominees forward to speak:

  • Commissioner Barron, Office of 2nd Vice President
    • 6.5 years as County Commissioner; just stared second term—waited till this point in my term to run for MACo Leadership
    • This is our voice at the Legislature and at the national level.
    • Will work very hard for you and take this position very seriously.

Convention Site for 2016

Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

Billings Hotel & Convention Center: Commissioner Reno expressed Yellowstone County’s excitement at hosting MACo’s 107th Annual Conference in Billings—they look forward to having everyone as their guests.

Presentation of Proposed Resolutions

Commissioner Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County, Resolutions & Legislative Committee Chair

  • There was one emergency resolution brought forward to the Board of Directors for Review:  Wilderness Characteristics Inventory.  The resolution was recommended to the MACo Public Lands Committee.
  • Need a motion to suspend the rules and accept the Board recommendation, therefore moving the resolution on to the Public Committee where it will receive a recommendation to the membership for review on Wednesday.

Motion: Commissioner Chilcott motioned to suspend the rules and accept the Board recommendation.

  • Discussion
    • Jean Curtiss, Missoula County – We have rules; they should be followed.
    • Todd Devlin, Prairie County – Two weeks prior to conference, we went through all the administrative options we had.  This would authorize MACo to educate the public and local governments about the possible action(s) of continued “wilderness characteristics” inventory being done by the federal land management agencies.

Vote:  The motion carried unanimously.

President’s Report

Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

MACo President, Dave Schulz, spoke to the MACo Membership about the past year:

  • Exciting, productive year—thank you to the MACo Staff
  • 5-State Presidents & Executives get together at Big Sky
    • Idaho President of Counties is a Sheriff from Fremont County; very intelligent on new communications issues that will affect us all.
  • National Presidents & Executives Meeting in Washington, DC
  • Ryan Zinke’s swearing-in party
  • Legislature:  Long couple of months; great experience
    • John Esp lobbied for MACo on contract; great respect from colleagues—when he spoke, they listened.
    • Shantil Siaperas, MACo Legislative Analyst & Communications Specialist was there before any of us, handed us our files, and made sure we were prepared.
    • MACo’s presence, professionalism is great.
    • There weren’t any bills that were going to affect counties disastrously.
  • Forest Resiliency:  Spoke to it in DC—Fires, litigation, and planning strategy
  • MACo put MOU together with Forest Service; we all agree we’re going to talk
  • WIR Conference in Hawaii:  Lesley Robinson, Phillips County Commissioner, was current president—she decided to run for NACo’s Western Region Representative (a chance to have a voice on NACo’s Executive Committee).
  • NACo Annual Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina:  Commissioner Robinson was elected as NACo’s Western Region Representative.
  • Privilege to be your President.

Fiscal Officer’s Report

Commissioner Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County, MACo Fiscal Officer

MACo Fiscal Officer, Mike McGinley, spoke to the MACo Membership about the past year: The audit was clean, no problems at all—approved unanimously by MACo Board of Directors yesterday.Executive Director’s Report.

Executive Director’s Report

Harold Blattie, Executive Director, Montana Association of Counties

  • Legislative Session:  No Infrastructure bill; a Special Session is unlikely
    • HB 334, MACo’s Omnibus Bill: 18 different cleanup items in one “Generally Revise” bill—passed
    • You are very good at letting your Legislators know how something will affect your counties—makes our job at the Capitol easier.
  • Legislative Interim Committees:  The number of studies and committees we’re following is growing—session doesn’t seem to have a break.
  • MACo Annual Survey:  The feeling among other elected officials is that MACo just serves commissioners.  You are our primary contacts to the other elected officials. Help us; invite them to our district meetings.
  • Easter Montana Workshops:  We’re looking into how to do a better job getting information to you.
  • Waters of the US:  MACo submitted comments as did 40 Montana counties.  EPA did adopt the rules; they are even more stringent than the draft rules.  MACo joined oth er states—13 total—in a lawsuit to challenge the rules.
  • MACo Finances FY-2015:  $40 million a year total revenue; MACo PCT revenue is $11.5 million; MACo HCT revenue is $19.6 million; MACo WCT revenue is $8.2 million
    • MACo Revenue from Trusts:  Admin fees and operations revenue is $3.5 million.
    • MACo Operating Revenue:  Advertising, capital asset reimbursements, conferences, directory sales, dues, grant, investment income, NACo marketing, pooled investment fee, rent, miscellaneous; all together it is $714K
    • MACo Operation Expenses:  Building, conferences, contract services, depreciation, grant administration, insurance, member travel, miscellaneous, NACo travel, office operations, personnel, professional services, staff travel; all together it is $712K

Report on Judicial Redistricting Commission

Commissioner Dave Schulz, County Representative on Commission
Representative Nate McConnell

An update on what is happening with Montana’s Judicial Redistricting Commission:

  • 44 District Judges in Montana; judges across the state were asked to evaluate their days in 15 minute increments; there is good indication that there should be an additional 17.
  • The Commission will be coming up with recommendations for the Legislature to consider.
  • Couple of Challenges:  If an additional judge is implemented in a county, there is an expectation that there be court room space (cost); miles traveled.
  • Don’t hesitate to bring your suggestions forward; likely to effect the state budget, so in turn it could affect your county.

Presentation:  Human Trafficking

Attorney General Tim Fox

Human trafficking is a brutal and horrible criminal industry that is a growing threat nationwide as well as globally. The Montana Department of Justice is extremely active in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting these kinds of cases across the state. In his address, Attorney General Fox discussed the scope of the problem, what his office is doing to fight human trafficking, and what counties can do to help spot and report suspected trafficking activities in Montana.

  • Slavery:  More today than at any other point in history—hundreds of thousands of young men and women, nearly half of them forced into prostitution, many as young as 12-14 years old (half are children).
  • Backpage.com:  Undercover sting
  • Social Media:  Children connected to others across the world
  • Doesn’t have to be a large network; can be one person enslaving another
  • Montana Problem: Small law enforcement agencies covering large spaces
  • Montana Department of Justice Action:
    • Fought for more troopers in Eastern Montana during the 2013 Legislative Session; investigations; 2013 bill regarding human trafficking awareness poster (posted all over the state); decal for commercial trucks; 2013 bill enhancing penalties for prostituting children; 2015 bill establishing definitions and penalties, protection for victims, and awareness
    • Montana Law Enforcement Academy: Basic human trafficking awareness training
    • Asked Congress to close loopholes that attract traffickers

General Session – Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Presentation:  Tax Deed

Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director
Ronda Wiggers, Lobbyist for the Montana County Treasurers Association

As the Legislature has been critical of the tax deed process in each of the last two sessions, the Revenue & Transportation Interim Committee has chosen to study this issue. The County Treasurers are forming a committee to discuss possible changes or improvements to the process and have invited Commissioners to participate. This presentation familiarized everyone with the current process and discussed ideas for possible change.

  • 2015 Legislative Session:  Tax deed bill, we opposed it and took a beating for it both in the hearing and on the House Floor.  This bill has come forward two sessions in a row and we opposed it both times.  We were told to fix it before the next session.
  • MACo is putting together a working group:  County treasurers are volunteering; we want someone from a title company as well as a few commissioners.
  • Putting county commissioners in repossession business isn’t good for several reasons:  rural areas, tension, and sometimes there simply is no payment.
  • Tax Lien Assignment Document:  Thrown out because it’s supposed to say “certificate.”
  • Going to look at what other states do.
  • Some of the code needs some cleaning up as well; the more steps there are in the process, the more chances there are for mistakes.
  • Volunteers:  JR Imann, Ravalli County; Bob Lee, Rosebud County; Ron Ostberg, Toole County

Presentation:  Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) & Secure Rural Schools (SRS)

Lesley Robinson, Phillips County Commissioner, NACo Western Region Representative

Chris Marklund, NACo Associate Legislative Director, Public Lands; Wester Interstate Region (WIR) Liaison was going to present on PILT & SRS, but he was in a car accident and couldn’t make it (he’s okay). Commissioner Robinson read a letter from Mr. Marklund:

I’m sorry I won’t be able to join you all out in Montana. Thank you for keeping the invitation open and I certainly look forward to joining you all out there in the near future.

Given the circumstances, Becca and I are doing well, but we will be taking it easy the next few days, recuperating, dealing with insurance, etc.  All in all, I’m just very glad to be writing this email.

Regarding PILT, the status remains about the same.  Congress is working on a CR, likely short term, to avert a shutdown.  We are in contact with Congress urging them to include full PILT funding in a CR – $452M necessary to fully fund FY16.  CR has not been released.  Likely to come last week of September.  We continue to urge folks to contact Congress and urge full finding for PILT in FY16.  Out PILT Toolkit has everything they need to do so – http://www.naco.org/resources/2015-pilt-toolkit

For SRS, the status is even less certain.  The program is authorized through this fiscal year, which means next year’s (CY16) checks will be issued. However, the following year’s (FFY16, CY17) checks are still in limbo.  SRS remains critical, but so is getting forest management back on track so that forest production can increase.   House has passed Forestry reform legislation and it is pending in the Senate Ag Committee.  NACo sent a letter last week urging quick action on forestry reform. NACo sent a letter to Senate Ag urging action on forest reform: http://www.naco.org/resources/naco-letter-senate-ag-committee-supporting-forest-management-reform.  Sample letter to write your Senators is available here: http://www.naco.org/resources/naco-letter-senate-ag-committee-supporting-forest-management-reform. We have shared both with Daines.  He is supportive.

Enjoy the rest of the conference,


Presentation:  Multi-Bank Securities, Inc.

Peter Torvik, Senior Vice President
Ken Bailey, Senior Vice President
Harold Blattie, MACo Executive Director
Ronda Wiggers

Investing in an Uncertain Environment; MACo members have seen their return on investment and income collapse in the last 10 years as interest rates have dropped. Now is the time to review policies, skills, and tools to be ready for when rates return to higher levels, increasing income and stretching the county budget.

  • Message:  Interest rates affect finances; interest rates are going up; now is the time to prepare.
  • Background:  Parent Company, Multi-Bank Services, Ltd., Founded in 1985
    • In 1987, Multi-Bank Securities, Inc., a broker-dealer, was founded to better serve customers with a wider variety of fixed-income products; certified as a Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise (VBE); headquartered in Southfield, Michigan; 125 employees nationwide; licensed in all 50 states; serving a diverse base of institutional clients for three decades; regulatory net capital of $40.3MM, as of June 30, 2015; total capital is approximately $50MM; ranked as one of the fastest growing, privately-held financial companies in 2009 through 2012 by Inc. (www.inc.com); four-time Inc. 5000 honoree; safekeeping and clearing through Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon Company
  • Interest Rates and Their Effects on County Finances
  • Investment Return Comparisons
  • Where are Rates Headed?
    • Federal Funds: Experts say higher—0.00% to 0.25% today; 1.50% Q1 2017
    • Two-Year Treasuries:  0.71% today; 2.09% Q1 2017
  • What Will This Mean for Your County?
    • Biggest increase in short rates; that’s where counties invest; should drive increased investment returns; expert-expected movement can mean significant impact
  • Bond Ladder:  A portfolio of fixed-income securities in which each security has a significantly different maturity date. The purpose of purchasing several smaller bonds with different maturity dates rather than one large bond with a single maturity date
    is to minimize interest-rate risk and to increase liquidity. In a bond ladder, the bonds’ maturity dates are evenly spaced across several months or several years so that the bonds are maturing and the proceeds are being reinvested at regular intervals. The more liquidity an investor needs, the closer together his bond maturities should be.

    • Spread out maturities; manage cash liquidity; reduce risk
  • eConnectDirect® is setting new standards in delivering transparency and empowering institutional investors to navigate in the investing and funding marketplace.
    • On-Demand Market Intelligence:  Perform market transparency, search and compare securities by class and type, view maturity distribution and cash flows
    • Investment Products Offered:  agencies, CDs, corporates, municipals, treasuries
    • Online Execution and Order Management Capabilities
    • Conduct Portfolio and Risk Analysis
    • Comprehensive Reporting  and Compliance Tools
    • Call, Step and Maturity Notifications
    • Live Customer Support
  • The Partnership:  In 2014, NACo partnered with MBS (bring eConnectDirect to public funds treasurers); in 2015, MACo joined the partnership; a no-cost information tool to manage investments in this environment; now is the time to focus.
  • Our Impact is Growing:  704 public entities; 186 counties, large and small (WY); 11 state associations, including MACo, are supporting the program with more to come.


General Session – Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MACo & NACo Committee Reports

MACo Agriculture Committee
Committee Chair, Maureen Davey, Stillwater County

  • Tom Rice gave an update from the Grizzly Committee.  The Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee met April 30 to May 1, 2015 where the delisting of the Grizzly Bear so that they can be managed was discussed.
  • Bob Lee gave an update about Sage Grouse.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today that USFWS has concluded that the greater sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act.  The governor has approved the Sage Grouse plan submitted by the Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Advisory Council which will be presented to the USFWS.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has stated that if the USFWS approves this plan, BLM will follow this plan.
  • Bob Goffena gave an update on water rights.
  • Mike Backen, Columbia Grain Elevator Manager, presented pulse crop information to the committee.
  • Amy Adler presented information about aquatic weeds and discussed the Montana Weed Control Association efforts concerning noxious weed management.
  • Previous resolutions were discussed with some being incorporated into the policy statements.
  • Committee members gave local updates across the state concerning crops this past summer.

NACo Agriculture & Rural Affairs Steering Committee
Committee Member, Maureen Davey, Stillwater County

  • During the full Agriculture and Rural Affairs Steering Committee Meeting, members considered several resolutions and platform changes.
  • The Proposed Platform Change on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) had a very solemn, heart felt discussion. Since the US House of Representatives voted to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 by repealing country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork, and chicken, the NACo Platform Change removed mandatory from its policy.
  • Other committee meetings I attended included: Public Lands and Environment, Energy and Land Use. I sat in on workshops that covered drought preparedness, cyber security and health coverage in jails.

NACo Telecommunications & Technology Steering Committee
Committee Chair, Joe Briggs, Cascade County; and

NACo Information Technology Standing Committee
Committee Vice Chair, Joe Briggs, Cascade County

  • The first speaker we heard from was by Mitch Herckis, Director of Business Development for FireEye. FireEye is arguably the premier cyber threat detection and elimination company in the world. They protect the networks of major worldwide corporations, as well as national, state and local governments. Mr. Herckis talked about the changing nature of cyber threats, the rising sophistication of the attacks and some of the trends in dealing with the issue of cyber security.
  • Our second presenter was Mr. Terry Hall, Chief of Emergency Communications for the York-Poquoson-Williamsburg 911 Center.  In addition to his duties of managing this consolidated 911 dispatch center Terry serves as the NACo representative to SAFECOM.  As you may know, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s SAFECOM program was established to improve multi-jurisdictional and intergovernmental communications interoperability.
  • FFC Regulations:  They are now contacting us for comments.
  • 911, Next Generation 911, FirstNet, Mobile Radio Systems

NACo Community, Economic Development & Labor Steering Committee
Committee Member, Mike McGinley

  • Role of Community Colleges Connection to Workforce Development:  Kevin  Dick,  Executive Director of   Durham Workforce  Development  Board  and  Penny Gluck,  Dean,  Durham  Technical Community  College  gave  a presentation about this  effective  model  for education and workforce  development partnerships and two of their  successfully  completed projects.
  • Implementation of WIOA:  Blanch Shoup, President of National Workforce Association, and Orrin Bailey, CEO of Michigan Works!  monitored a discussion and question and  answer on the impact of the US DOL regulations  and the WIOA Notice of Proposed  Rulemaking.  They focused the presentation on how to ensure county officials and staff are prepared to successfully implement WIOA. The proposed rules are expected to be in effect by January 2016.
  • Panel Discussion on Investing in Manufacturing Partnership:  County Commissioners from Georgia, Illinois, and Alabama talked of their experiences of these partnerships and how they have benefited their respective counties.
  • Gary Willis, Program Director for the Office of Economic Adjustment Assistance, U.S.  Department of Defense talked about programs on defense budget cuts and their negative impact on local business and local areas workforce

MACo Energy Committee
Committee Chair, John Prinkki, Carbon County

  • Brian Spangler from the MT Dept. of Environmental Quality spoke of two new windfarms being developed in Montana along with about 80 miles of transmission lines.
  • Gary Forester from Montana Dakota Utilities talked of an announcement this morning that the federal government is not listing sage grouse as an endangered species and that Governor Bullock has issued a new executive order which aligns very closely with Wyoming’s sage grouse management plan.  Montana has committed $10.5 million to the plan with $10 million earmarked for mitigation projects.  There will be a stakeholders meeting in November; he encouraged MACo to be an involved stakeholder.
  • Mr. Spangler also commented on the EPA Carbon Rule; the EPA is saying Montana has to reduce emissions by 40%.  An advisory committee is being put together to create plan to take back to the EPA.  Montana is at close to 50% renewable but much of what we have isn’t being recognized for the state because it is being exported and Montana’s hydro generation also isn’t being counted as renewable generation.
  • Mr. Forrester commented that Colstrip 1 and 2 are under lot of pressure including Washington State suggesting purchase of the generators with the intent to close them down and even Colstrip 3 is endangered.  It was pointed out the resulting drop in coal production would have dramatic impacts on TSEP and lots of other programs including the Coal Trust Fund.  Discussion was held on coal’s contribution to state economy.
  • Discussion ensued if a legal suit should be filed to force the EPA to treat us fairly.  Key points would be our hydro not counted as renewable while other States are and no recognition of exports out but docked for lines coming in.  There was also some discussion on a possible litigation fund.
  • We discussed the issue of net metering where small residential generation would build credits as opposed to being paid for excess production; if the credits were not used by end of year, the credit would be lost.  The bill proposing this failed in the Legislature but it is being examined by a study commission.

NACo Environment, Energy & Land Use Steering Committee (EELU)
Committee Member, John Prinkki, Carbon County

  • This year the EELU discussed several proposed policy changes and resolutions that have a direct effect on Carbon County and all the other Montana Counties:
    • Proposed Resolution on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Final Waters of the U.S. Rule
    • Proposed Resolution to Oppose More Stringent Regulation of Particulate Matter
    • Proposed Resolution on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Efforts to Tighten Ozone Air Quality Regulations
    • Proposed Resolution Opposing EPA’s Proposal to Lower the National Ozone Standard from 75 Parts per Billion to 65-70 Parts per Billion
    • Proposed Resolution Opposing the Construction of a Nuclear Waste Repository in the Great Lakes Basin
    • Proposed Resolution Supporting an Affordable and Reliable Energy Supply
    • Proposed Resolution in Support of the Keystone XL Pipeline
    • Proposed Resolution to Promote a Level Playing Field for Certified Forest Products in Green Buildings
    • Proposed Resolution on Executive Order Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (with the Justice & Public Safety Steering Committee)
    • Proposed Platform Change on Land Use Planning and the Endangered Species Act (with the Public Lands Steering Committee)
    • Resolution Supporting Ongoing Efforts of the Western States to Manage and Conserve the Greater Sage Grouse and in Opposition to an ESA Listing of the Greater Sage Grouse at This Time (with the Public Lands Steering Committee)
    • Proposed Resolution on Wild Horse and Burro Management (with the Public Lands Steering Committee)
  • I encourage all Montana Commissioners to take the time to review the new NACo website and especially the County Explorer. There is invaluable information about our individual counties. Take the time to navigate the new NACo website at www.naco.org.

MACo Health & Human Services Committee
Committee Chair, Carl Seilstad, Fergus County

  • Governor’s Office Update: Dan Villa, Budget Director for the Governor, provided an overview of the work during the session and the interim on a number of issues:  Mental Health Funding; Montana State Hospital; Closure of the MT Developmental.
  • Community Mental Health Centers: Kathy McGowan reported on the concerns of mental health centers regarding funding, and program sustainability. She also reported that due to changes in the Veterans Managed Care programs, more veterans are being referred to community mental health centers, which further strains their resources.
  • Immunizations and Record Keeping: The Committee discussed the issue of pharmacies recordkeeping and reporting of immunizations. This is causing issues with elderly patients, who cannot remember where they got their immunizations, if they got them at a local pharmacy. Currently, pharmacies and providers can voluntarily “opt-in” to a program to report immunizations. A bill was introduced last session to change it to an “opt-out” program, but died due to privacy concerns.
  • The committee voted to approve the creation of a resolution to support Department legislation to change reporting of immunizations by providers and pharmacies to an “opt-out” program.
  • MT Board of Crime Control: Executive Director Deb Matteucci provided an update on the activities of the Board.
  • MT Children’s Initiative: Sheila Smith of the Western Montana Mental Health Center reported on the success of the bills regarding the pilot grants for children’s diversion for mental health services.
  • Public Health Officers: Jean Curtiss reported on the success of legislation regarding Medicaid Expansion and the requirements for Pertussis and Chicken Pox immunizations for students.
  • Kerry Pride of DPHHS reported on the training they have been providing to local Boards of Health around the state. She also reported the new Board of Health Guide Book is now online.
  • Area Agencies on Aging: Erin McGowan reported on the additional funding granted by the legislature, that will help pay for community based services. She also reported that their group will be looking at community based services for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • NACo: Sheryl Wood reported on National Initiatives and issues regarding People with Mental Illness in Jails, Inmate Medical and Medicaid Expansion.

NACo Human Services & Education Steering Committee
Committee Member, Carl Seilstad, Fergus County

  • This year NACo’s Human Services & Education Steering Committee reviewed resolutions that were for the most part a continuation from last year:
    • Reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant
    • International Collection of Child Support Obligations
    • Community Services Block Grant
    • DREAM Act
    • Early Childhood Development
    • Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
    • Elder Justice Initiative
    • Strengthening the Elder Justice Act
    • Reauthorization of the Older American Act
    • Reducing Poverty by Half in Ten Years
    • Victims of Human Sex Trafficking, Particularly Children and Youth
    • Social Services Block Grant
    • Reauthorizing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant
    • Funding for Veterans Services
  • Subcommittee meetings had lots of discussion on older Americans; there are more services and resources needed.
  • We had some combined meetings with the Health Steering Committee and the Justice & Public Safety Steering Committee on jails and mental illness.

MACo Justice & Public Safety Committee
Committee Chair, Bill Barron, Lake County

  • Montana Board of Crime Control: Deb Matteucci, Executive Director provided an update on the activities of the Board.
  • Pre-Sentence Investigations: Sheryl Wood reported that Sheridan County has expressed concerns regarding the time it takes for pre-sentence investigations and the costs of housing inmates during the process. Sheridan County also has concerns regarding the backlog at the crime lab, which also extends inmate stays. It is hoped the new crime lab being established in Billings will help with the backlog.
  • Interim Committee Updates: Mark Murphy, MT County Attorney’s Association, provided updates on the work of the Legislative Interim Committees:  The Task Force on the Office of Public Defender; District Court Workload/Redistricting; Closure of the MT Developmental Center; MLEA Funding; Sentencing Commission
  • SRS: Sheryl Wood reported that meetings are being held with MSPOA and Retirement Administration staff regarding the unfunded status of the sheriff’s retirement system. The Actuarial reports are due out in October, so the group will meet after the reports are received to determine recommendations for helping the system become actuarially sound.
  • NACo: Sheryl Wood reported on National Initiatives and issues regarding People with Mental Illness in Jails, Inmate Medical and Medicaid Expansion.
  • Jim Muskovich reported on loss control activities related to jails.7.    Jail Rates: Brian Gootkin, Gallatin County Sheriff, reported on the discussions regarding the $69 a day cap placed on jail rates in HB 2. Sheriffs, Commissioners and County Attorneys will be meeting to further consider options, as most jails will lose a considerable amount of revenue with the new cap.

NACo Justice & Public Safety Steering Committee
Committee Member, Bill Barron, Lake County

  • The NACo Justice & Public Safety Committee was busy this year with 11 resolutions:
    • Proposing Alternative Restructuring for Homeland Security Grants
    • Supporting the Emergency Management Performance Grant Sponsor
    • Supporting Legislation Providing Mitigation Funds for Certain Areas Affected by Wildfires
    • Juvenile Life Sentencing Without Opportunity for Parole
    • Limiting Jury Awards Against Counties for Federal Law Claims
    • Supporting the Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act (Stop Identity Theft Act) and Similar Legislation
    • Supporting an Affordable and Sustainable Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program
    • Supporting Funding and Amending Disaster Program Policies for the Management and Mitigation of Post-Wildfire Flooding and Debris Flow Damage
    • Supporting Rescinding FEMA Mitigation Policy on Hydraulic Fracturing
    • Supporting Prevention of Fraud Against Veterans and Their Families
    • State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)
  • As Commissioner Seilstad mentioned, we also had a combined meeting with the Health Steering Committee and the Human Services Steering Committee on jails and mental illness.

MACo Land Use & Development Committee
Committee Vice Chair, JR Iman, Ravalli County

  • Discussed one of the Agriculture Committee’s Policy Statements regarding exempt wells/land use planning; the committee requested it be on the next meeting’s agenda. The Policy Statement reads as follows:  “MACo supports water policy that continues to allow the de minimis use of exempt well water for agriculture, homes, and small businesses without the burden of the water right permitting process; and opposes changes to water policy that would unnecessarily increase the cost associated with accessing water; changes to water policy that limit the county’s ability to properly plan, zone for growth, or review and condition subdivision applications; changes to water policy that would negatively affect the county’s ability to meet Wildland Urban Interface requirements; and changes to water policy that may create added weed infestation in Montana.”
    • Good discussion. The committee wants to understand why the Agriculture Committee had adopted the policy.  MACo Legislative Analyst, Shantil Siaperas, is going to research the Agriculture Committee’s minutes and perhaps the floor discussion when the policy was adopted.  May want to move it into the Land Use Policy Statements.
  • There was lively discussion on the Legacy Ranch district court decision from Ravalli County and the “hard look” standard that the court used to evaluate the findings and conditions for Legacy Ranch.
  • Pam Converse gave an update on legislation that affected weed control and discussed plans to look for an increase in funding from motor vehicle registration for weed control as well as a new state trust fund for aquatic noxious weeds.

MACo Public Lands Committee
Committee Chair, Lesley Robinson, Phillips County

  • Mike Volesky, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, gave an update on bison.
  • Region One Update, Leanne Marten, Regional Forester, US Forest Service
  • NACo Public Lands & Western Interstate Region Update:  Chris Marklund, Associate Legislative Director, NACo Public Lands and WIR
  • Overview of FLPMA, Todd Devlin, Prairie County Commissioner, MACo 2nd Vice President
  • Reviewed resolutions from 2014 (2015 Legislative Session) for possible policy statement incorporations
  • Reviewed emergency resolution opposing continued wilderness characteristics inventory—recommend the membership passes
  • The committee members gave general updates regarding public lands in their areas.

NACo Public Lands Steering Committee
Committee Vice Chair, Lesley Robinson, Phillips County

  • Year as Western Interstate Region President and Annual Conference in Kauai
  • Recently elected as NACo’s Western Region Representative and therefore a seat on NACo’s Executive Committee.
  • Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County received Daile Sowards Award—given to an elected official who has demonstrated outstanding service to public lands counties
  • The NACo Public Lands Steering had 39 resolutions this year.  A few worth mentioning include:
    • Urging Congress to Address the Growing U.S. Forest Service Trails Maintenance Backlog
    • Endangered Species Act
    • Equal Access to Justice Act
    • Federal Land Management Practices

MACo Transportation Committee
Committee Chair, John Ostlund, Yellowstone County

  • Wayne Noem, Missoula MDT District Administrator and Lynn Zanto, MDT Rail, Transit and Planning Administrator, made presentations. Wayne talked to the group about commissioner participation in the urban and secondary road system for rural commissioners who do not have an MPO.  Lynn Zanto made a presentation about the trust fund running out of money by the end of September and the progress being made in congress to pass a new highway funding bill. Lynn also said that MDOT had moved more into an asphalt maintenance program because of a lack of funding for long term projects. Stay tuned as Congress will have to pass something before October to keep the projects alive.
  • Rick Thompson of DEQ made a presentation to the committee members who had questions about DEQ labeling recycled asphalt as a hazardous material. Rick indicated DEQ had discussed the issues related to long term storage of RAP, and the only change would be a form that commissioners or road supervisors would fill out and send in detailing the proposed use and indicating that the RAP would not be stored in drainage or other sensitive area.
  • Pam Converse had a short presentation on weed spraying issues and how to contract with local private sprayers and or the Department of Transportation. Many counties take care of state and interstate highway barrow pit weed issues through a contract issued by MDT.

NACo Transportation Steering Committee
Committee Member, John Ostlund, Yellowstone County

  • Long agenda filled with resolutions and presentations. The first resolution asked to expand funding for Mass Transit instead of increasing funding for road construction.
  • The resolution on County Priorities for reauthorization of MAP 21 passed with a 100% of the committee members votes, all members shared the concern that a 6 year bill is needed to provide financial stability to states and county governments and allow enough time to plan and engineer for development of safety and reconstruction projects.
  • Additional resolutions, like more funding for tribal roads, modifying the train horn rule, and a request to modify the rules for challenges to Federal Aid Highway Construction projects also passed. The rule change would make it more difficult to make legal challenges that impact highway projects after the record of decision is rendered. These late challenges delay projects and drive costs up for counties and state governments and are not timely in the process.
  • At  the  NACo  conference  last  year  I  introduced  a  resolution  from  Montana  on  equitable  funding  and expenditures  in  the  new  highway  trust  fund  bill  and  it  passed  without  opposition.  This resolution  asks congress to continue to fund the Highway Trust Fund with user fees like the federal and state gas taxes used that primarily fund the system however it expands the user fees to capture all users like natural gas vehicles and electric cars. A user fee system cannot work with only a portion of the users paying the bill. NACo resolutions need to be brought back and voted on each year and equitable funding for the highway trust fund has risen very high on the committees priority list. With that said, this year I asked the committee to place this resolution in our NACo policy and it was approved without objection and NACo will lobby from a position of support that all users of the system also pay into the trust fund.
  • The transportation committee listened to a presentation from Shane Reese about highway safety and larger trucks on the system often referred to as Twin 33s. These longer trucks have been viewed by the transportation committee as having many safety issues related to the additional time it takes for vehicles to pass a truck of this length and these trucks and trailers also have longer stopping distances and are subject to large sideways drifting movements and rollover accidents in high winds. NACo’s committee recommends that congress reject any proposals to increase the size, length or weight of trucks on the national highway system.
  • It appears we will have another short term extension of MAP 21 through December which may in fact allow congress time to address equitable funding and include in the long term bill fees collected from all users of the system.

NACo Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee
Subcommittee Chair, (County & Tribal Government Relationships),
Sidney Fitzpatrick, Bighorn County

  • Seemingly impossible issues
    • Indian Voting Rights Act
      • Big Horn, Rosebud, and Blaine counties got sued
    • Trust Lands
    • Younger generation turning to drugs and alcohol
  • MACo’s Reservation Counties needs to be a committee:  we need more than one hour to discuss serious issues.

Panel:  How Do You Handle Weeds in Your County?

Jerry Dell, Stillwater County Commissioner
John Ostlund, Yellowstone County Commissioner
Becky Kington, Executive Director, Montana Weed Control Association
Mike Miller, Roadside Specialist/Weed Coordinator, Montana Department of Transportation
Joe Lockwood, Yellowstone County Weed Superintendent

“One way” does not fit all when it comes to the methods used by counties to manage weeds. There could be commitments between private, state, and federal agencies or MOUs between county departments. Does weed management start and stop with just noxious weeds? This panel shared how counties address their weeds.

  • Jerry Dell:  We want to get where we spray secondary roads; BLM and trust fund money; work with DNRC, FWP
    • Applied for grant money through state co-op grant; work with farmers and ranchers
    • $140,000 per year budget
    • Broke into 4 areas; spray time going down as is chemical usage
  • John Ostlund and Joe Lockwood:  Two fulltime and six seasonal spray techs; work with MDT, FWP, BLM, and others; good work relations are important
    • Cost share program:  Work with herbicide cost with land owner, $500
  • Becky Kington:  We have information regarding the average salary of a weed coordinator as well as what they do; it’s on our website, www.mtweed.org.
    • Noncompliance: We have state law
    • Have a weed coordinator who is passionate about the cause
    • Build partnerships:  agencies, landowners, nonprofit groups
    • Grants

Presentation:  GIS for County Government, Real Options for Citizen Engagement

Stewart Kirkpatrick, State GIS Coordinator, MT State Library
Ken Wall, GeoData Services
Paul Wick, Planning, Teton County
Dave Boisvert, IT Director, Blaine County

In FY15 four counties (Blaine, Lincoln, Teton and Sanders) appli ed for funding through the Montana Land Information Act (MLIA) to obtain software and training that leveraged a consortium-based training approach for Implementing ArcGIS Online.  Applications incorporated state-produced base data in conjunction with locally developed data to produce visually stimulating interactive web-based projects on a variety of topics including E911, rural addressing, and infrastructure inventory.  More important than the applications, however, is the core set of GIS knowledge and skills the counties obtained that can now be leveraged to develop additional applications on their own, leading to GIS sustainability in rural Montana counties.  We hope this presentation helped stimulate other counties to consider similar partnership efforts that leverage MLIA funds.

  • Montana Land Information Act Grant Program. The Montana Land Information Advisory Council MLIAC), as required by statute, advises the State Librarian and the State Library Commission on issues related to land information, on the priority of land information, including data layers to be developed, on the development and management of the Montana Land Information Act grant process and on the distribution of funds collected in the Montana Land Information Account. The Council assists the State Library to identify, evaluate, and prioritize requests received from state agencies, local governments, and Indian tribal government entities to provide development and maintenance of services relating to the GIS, More information at http://geoinfo.msl.mt.gov/Home/GIS_Community/GIS_Coordination/MLIA_Grants
  • An example of Montana land record registration dollars at work in Montana through MLIAC competitive grants improving the lives of Montanans. In this instance a group of high school students and their teacher in north central Montana learned GIS and built GIS/GPS infrastructure benefiting the local economy. Check out the story map at http://arcg.is/1Hz8vsD
  • Any public or private school in the US can apply for a free school-wide Esri ArcGIS Online account for academic school work and studies. These accounts are the equivalent of a commercially sold product worth $10,000 and there is no charge to the school. These are hosted by Esri and are used with existing Internet browsers, tablets and smartphones. No new computers are required, only a broadband internet connection. More information through the broadband ConnectEd program from Esri at http://www.esri.com/connected
  • Geodata Services maintains a demonstration page of Internet map applications for rural local governments. It is available at http://arcg.is/1EyDFdf. Geodata Services provides web based training in ArcGIS Online for local governments and starter kits to help rural counties and towns get started making their own web maps and applications. More information at http://www.geodataservicesinc.com
  • Next Generation 911 references, reading lists and information are available below. This list was compiled by Dale Boisvert at Blaine County:
    • Next Generation 9-1-1 and Local Government GIS by Michael Fashoway. Found on the MAGIP website (www.magip.org) in the contents for the spring meeting at Miles City.
    • North Dakota GIS efforts in support of NextGen 9-1-1 by Jason Horning, North Dakota Association of Counties (www.magip.org)
    • Next Generation 911 in Montana by the State Library staff, most easily found at the agenda page of the Telecommunications and Energy interim committee meeting of 9/11/2015.
    • http://leg.mt.gov/content/Committees/Interim/2015-2016/Energyand-Telecommunications/Meetings/Sept-2015/next-generation-91-1-gis.pdf

Presentation:  Montana Infrastructure Report Card

Craig Nowak, a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers since 1976

The Report Card grades Montana’s roads, water, wastewater, dams, irrigation canals, schools, and solid waste systems. MT ASCE is committed to improving Montana’s public infrastructure; and to achieve that goal, the Report Card depicts the condition and performance of Montana’s infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card—assigning letter grades that are based on physical condition and needed fiscal investments for improvement.  MT ASCE brought to light the condition of Montana’s infrastructure and where the need lies for upgrades, replacement, and improvements.

  • Why a Montana Infrastructure Report Card? As Civil Engineers we are tasked with providing infrastructure that is first and foremost safe.  It should also provide environmental protections and economic vitality.  All of these combine together to provide and maintain and high Quality of Life.
  • Basic Issues:  Public Health & Safety; Environmental Protection; Quality of Life; Economic Vitality
  • Report Card as a Delivery Method:  Inform Citizens, Media, Infrastructure Owners & Legislators on Status & Importance of Infrastructure; Make Recommendation–Solutions; Facilitate Policy Decisions
  • The Report Card Should:  Inform Citizens, Media, Infrastructure Owners & Legislators on Status & Importance of Infrastructure; Make Recommendations – Solutions; Facilitate Policy Discussions
  • Report Card Is:  1st Montana-Specific Report Card (Baseline); Overall Assessment; Provides Recommendations and Range of Solutions to “Raise the Grade”
  • Report Card Isn’t:  Review of Specific Programs; List of Projects/Infrastructure Most in Need of Support/Funding
  • Who – Montana Report Card Committee:
    • 28 Professionals Across Montana – Data Collection (19 People); Report Writing (9 People); Presentation & Release (12 People)
    • Sectors Represented on Committee – Consulting Engineers; State Agencies; City Government; Retired Engineers; National Organizations
  • Research Used for Report Cards:  2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, www.infrastructurereportcard.org, State of Montana Agency Reports & Budgets; Federal Reports with State Breakouts; Economic Impact Reports (State, etc.); Surveys of Infrastructure; Owners/Operators; Interviews with Agency Staff
  • There is a consistent process that all infrastructure report cards, developed under ASCE guidance and the ASCE brand, follow.  The first step is one of research, where states can choose any or all of the 16 infrastructure categories evaluated on a national level, or add new ones depending on state-specific needs.  Once the infrastructure categories are selected, data is gathered for each category by means including agency report and literature review, interviews, and surveys.  Montana engineers then evaluate each category based on the evaluation criteria shown, using both the hard data collected and their own experience as guides.  Following this research effort, write-ups on each section are prepared and sent to ASCE National for review and feedback.  The state committee then works closely with National staff on finalization of report card materials (both brochure length and full length), print and electronic media, ultimately resulting in a media release that frequently involves interested groups like the state legislature.  Following the release, an outreach effort is made to legislators, agencies and citizens to raise awareness of the state of Montana’s infrastructure and encourage measures to improve the state of Montana’s infrastructure.
    • For Montana, we have currently worked through the research and draft narratives for all of the sections we are evaluating, and we are awaiting the results of ASCE National’s review, anticipated in early to mid-October.  We will then work diligently toward a media release on November 18, shortly following the elections, but in advance of the 2015 legislative session.
  • Montana Infrastructure Reviewed:  Bridges, dams, drinking water, inland waterways, roads, schools, solid waste, transit, wastewater
  • 2014 Report Card for Montana’s Infrastructure:  D-, Schools; D+, Wastewater; C-,Dams; C-, Drinking Water; C, Irrigation Canals; C, Transportation; C+, Transit; B-, Solid Waste
    • What do ASCE’s grades mean?  A = Exceptional – Fit for the future; B = Good – Adequate for now; C = Mediocre – Requires Attention; D = Poor – At Risk; F = Failing/Critical – Unfit for purpose
  • Montana’ infrastructure is aging and has reached a critical state of disrepair.  However, the good news is that there are solutions – but we need local, state and federal officials to focus on this pressing problem and make plans to fix Montana’s infrastructure.  There are four key areas that Montana’s leaders should focus on to improve our infrastructure:
    • Have a Plan and Fund for the Future: All infrastructure owners and operators should create and fund capital replacement plans for both immediate and long-term needs.
    • Support Federal Programs That Are Good for Montana: Montana should support federal efforts that provide direct financial assistance to the state for safe and efficient infrastructure, like the Highway Trust Fund and National Dam Safety Program.
    • Keep Up Infrastructure Education Efforts: State agencies should continue and encourage participation in education and outreach programs provided to infrastructure owners and operators.
    • Innovate As We Replace: Montana should support and encourage innovative solutions to infrastructure funding and capacity-building, including design/build project delivery and measures to increase waste diversion and recycling.

Closing General Session

Roll Call

Commissioner Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County, Fiscal Officer

After roll call was taken, Commissioner McGinley announced a quorum was present to conduct business.

Unfinished Business

Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

There was no unfinished business from the opening general session.

Resolution of Appreciation

Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

Whereas, the 2015 Annual Conference of the Montana Association of Counties 106th such meeting; and

Whereas, attendance of member counties marks its success; and

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the 106th Annual Conference of the Montana Association of Counties expresses its sincere appreciation for the sponsorship of this conference to the Missoula County Commissioners and staff:

  • Jean Curtiss
  • Nicole “Cola” Rowley
  • Stacy Rye

Motion/Vote:  A motion to pass the Resolution of Appreciation was made by Commissioner McGinley and seconded by Commissioner Reno. The motion passed unanimously.

Election of Officers

Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County, MACo President

The Board of Directors, acting as the Nominations Committee, brings forth the candidates for the 2016 year as follows:

  • Office of Immediate Past President:   Commissioner Dave Schulz, Madison County
  • Office of President: Commissioner Maureen Davey, Stillwater County
  • Office of 1st Vice President: Commissioner Todd Devlin, Prairie County
  • Office of 2nd Vice President: Commissioner Bill Barron, Lake County
  • Office of Fiscal Officer:  Commissioner Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County

President Schulz asked for any other nominations:

Nomination: Bob Lee, Rosebud County, nominated Laura Obert, Broadwater County, for MACo 2nd Vice President.  Jim Hart, Madison County, seconded the motion.

President Schulz invited the nominees forward to speak:

  1. Comissioner Obert:  Thank you.  I care deeply about my community and MACo; good at brainstorming and problem solving; honored to just be standing here accepting this nomination.
  2. Commissioner Barron:  Worked very hard in county government – former Sheriff, MSPOA, Commissioner, MACo past experiences, feel very qualified.  Whichever way this election goes, the organization will benefit from it.

Vote:  Ballots for the 2nd Vice President position were cast.  Bill Barron, Lake County, was elected by majority vote as MACo’s new 2nd Vice President.

Motion/Vote:  Gary Macdonald, Roosevelt County, motioned to cast a unanimous ballot to elect all other positions as nominated (except for the Fiscal Officer Position, as it is a two-year term, and this is not the election year for this position).  Commissioner Murray seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.


Commissioner Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County, Resolutions & Legislative Committee Chair

The rules were suspended on Monday to allow the membership to vote on an emergency resolution:

  • 2015-XX, Wilderness Characteristics Inventory was amended in the MACo Public Lands Committee and came out with a recommendation of “Do Pass as Amended.”

Motion:  Gary Macdonald, Roosevelt County, motioned to pass the resolution as amended as per the Public Lands Committee recommendation.  The motion was seconded by Tom Rice, Beaverhead County.

  • Discussion
    • Jean Curtiss, Missoula County:  What is Prairie County’s concern that brought forward this resolution?
    • Todd Devlin, Prairie County:  Already cataloguing, just on newly catalogued since 1991.  If the resolution passes, MACo is taking a position as whole on all lands with wilderness characteristics since 1991 Act.
    • Jean Curtiss:  This is way too general; don’t know if this effects land in my county or not.

Voice Vote on “Do Pass as Amended” Motion:  Motion passes by majority.

Proposed By-Law Amendment(s)

Mike Murray, Lewis & Clark County

There were no proposed by-law amendments.

Congressional Reports

Senator John Tester & Congressman Steve Daines

Videos were provided and played for the membership.

Other Business

There was no further business.


The General Session of the MACo 106th Annual Conference adjourned with the installation of officers occurring at the evening annual banquet.