Funding tentatively approved for growth policy plan

On Wednesday, after some discussion and pending successful contract negotiations, the commissioners moved to approve an independent contractor agreement with Cossitt Consulting out of Park City.

Commission chairman Sandy Broesder informed the commissioners that the City of Conrad, Town of Valier and county growth planning committee had solicited requests for proposals for an independent contractor to prepare the combined Growth Plan for the County, including two incorporated municipalities.

The recommendation of the committee, presented to the commissioners by Cheryl Curry of the Pondera Regional Port Authority, was to approve the contract with Cossitt.

The contract would cost the three entities (Pondera County, (Conrad, Valier) $55,000.Each of the three entities  has available up to $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding  and would be required to match the amount  with services and certain expenses such as copies, postage to name a couple.

Even with the CDBG dollars, the contract cost of $55,000 would require the city and county to provide the additional $10,000 to fulfill the consideration requirement of the contract.

For lack of funds, Valier received a waiver from the CDBG program for any additional dollars toward the difference in the grant funds and the actual cost of the contract.

The commissioners discussed the details with Curry by phone, including ways to reduce the costs and if “successful contract negotiations” included monetary negotiations.

Curry advised that the committee would be receptive to negotiating a lower amount for the services and she would look into the matter.

Commissioner Cynthia Johnson moved to approve the agreement with Cossitt Consulting, “pending successful contract negotiations” and Commissioner Joe Christiaens said, “Against my better judgment, I’ll second it.”  Motion passed.

In other business, Sharon Eisenberg, the chairman of the TV District Board was on hand.

She was inquiring as to which board member(s) term was up for appointment this year.

Johnson told her that Jerry Walth’s seat was up and that he had already submitted a request to be re-appointed.

Eisenberg informed the commissioners that the Conrad TV District is prepared to convert to digital transmission; however, currently there are no digital signals off the East Butte translator.

In other action by the commissioners, it was moved to stay on course for funding to be used by the new community center.

The commissioners have been preparing a grant application for the Energy Efficiency Grants available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which is better known as “stimulus funding.”

The grants are available to counties and cities and the county plans to use any funding received from the program to remodel the Community Center.

The City of Conrad had been approached by the Pondera Medical Center (PMC) and the Port Authority to partner with the city in the hope of a successful application for energy efficiency for the PMC and the former BFSF depot building.

The city declined the requests and consequently, the PMC and the PA approached the county to include their projects in the county’s application.

The commissioners discussed the request as well as the county’s need for funding to complete the community center.
Curry (PA) noted that the commissioners would not be able to prepare the supplemental information required by the grant application in time to meet the Feb. 2 deadline and would withdraw their request at this time.

PMC personnel have been working up information for an application and it was noted they would be able to meet the Feb. 2 deadline.

The hospital would also commit to any and all ARRA reporting that might be required, if the city would submit the application on their behalf.

Christiaens moved to have the county proceed with its application as originally planned with all, if any, funding received under the grant to be used for the Community Center remodeling project.

In addition, the county encouraged the city and PMC to partner in an application for grant funding for the hospital under an application submitted by the city.  The motion passed.

A resolution was passed, R-22 which will allow the county commissioners when it is “deemed appropriate” to employ special counsel to assist in the prosecution of a criminal case.

Teton County Attorney, Joe Coble will be appointed as a special deputy county attorney for Pondera County. No fee will be charged for attorney time, however, mileage at the current rate 50-cents a mile will be paid to him, plus any expenses incurred during the prosecution of cases.

Witness fee, expense, jury costs and other normal costs associated with an upcoming trial will still be the county’s responsibility.

In final action on Wednesday morning, the commissioners moved on the closeout certification of the Brady water and sewer district CDBG project.

The commission meets every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in the commissioner’s office. The public is always welcome to attend these meetings and witness their government in operation.