Commissioners hold two public meetings

   Wednesday morning during their regular business session, county commissioners conducted a pair of public hearings.
   The first was conducted on the preliminary budget and the second followed on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).
   At the preliminary budget hearing were representatives from the Conrad Public Library; Carolyn Donath, Nancy Bruner, Wendy Judisch and Mayor John Shevlin and Cheryl Curry.
   Janis Hoppes, Clerk and Recorder, reviewed the budget and noted that expenditures needed to be cut, particularly in the general fund and public safety fund.
   Head Librarian Donath noted that she, Bruner and Judisch were in attendance regarding the appropriations for the libraries and made her request for the Conrad library to receive more funding.
   The commissioners have not yet made a determination on library funding.
   To date, they are still conducting research with the State of Montanan Library Association regarding the state’s formula for distribution.
   There were no other comments on budget funding. No action on the library was taken. Commissioners will work on the budget until its final adoption.
   Regarding the public hearing on the NSP, Curry, representing the Pondera Regional Port Authority (PA) and Mayor Shevlin were in attendance.
   Curry presented an overview of the NSP and the PA’s role in the program.
   The intent of the program is to procure and rehabilitate foreclosed residential property and offer it for sale to parties meeting specific financial criteria.
   The purpose of the public hearing was to hear from the public regarding any objections and or affirmations of the program. There were no objections and no written comments received.
   In further discussion, Curry noted that the PA has determined it will not pursue any properties located in a flood plain or flood prone areas.
   There is one home under consideration at this time, located in Brady. The mayor wanted to know if a mobile home was located in a flood plain or flood prone area could it be procured and moved from that area. Curry said she would have to research that option.
   Commissioner Cynthia Johnson moved and Commissioner Joe Christiaens seconded to approve the NSP management program. This passed on 3-0, with chairman Sandy Broesder adding the third vote.
   In other business, Johnson noted that Pondera County is one of the counties in Montana granted additional bonding authority under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
   The bonding authority can be exercised by the county or passed off to other governments for developmental bonds ($660,000 available) or to the public sector for non-governmental facility bonds ($999, 000 available).
   The deadline to accept or decline this additional bonding authority was (last) Wednesday. Johnson recommended that the commissioners adopt a resolution declaring all of Pondera County as being in the recovery zone and thereby accepting this opportunity.
   Specific projects do not have to be outlined at this time.
   Resolution-6, on a unanimous vote of 3-0, was adopted on Sept. 30. The full resolution is available for any interested party to read at the courthouse during normal working hours.
   There was one abatement to act on. A house on state owned leased land reverted to state ownership, which is non-taxable property. Commissioners approved an abatement of $5,142.57.
   After some discussion, the commission approved the county funds transfer for a Medicaid match agreement with the State of Montana Addictive and Mental Disorders Division.
   Through this agreement the county agrees to transfer funding that would have come to the county in the amount of $6,032 to the state to use as Medicaid program match for services provided to county citizens for addictive and mental disorders.
   Readers will recall that a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) for economic development was received in 2002.
   Under the terms of the grant, the county served as a pass-through agency for the PA. The PA administered the grant which was subcontracted to International Truck Body (ITB) to use in hiring and training employees to complete a federal contract.
   The grant was scheduled to close-out on Sept. 30; however, due to the national economic factors during the past year, ITB was unable to sustain the program once the federal contract was completed.
   ITB anticipates they will again be in a position to use the funding once the economic rebound is further along.  In light of this, the commission passed a one year extension of the contract in order for ITB to reach its hiring goals.
   An emergency preparedness grant task order was approved.
   A task order to the county’s master contract with the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Training Program was approved. The grant funding for the task order is $43,258 in federal funding and is to be used for emergency preparedness and response in the event of a health-related emergency such as a pandemic flu outbreak.
   And, the commissioners moved to approve the excavation agreement requested by the Pondera County Canal and Reservoir Co. to engage in excavation on and under the intersection of Fowler Road and Madison Road in order to install a pipeline.