REPAIR WORK — A crew from NorthWestern Energy works to remove a transformer at ITB this past week that went out of commission due to the snow storms and high winds. Photo courtesy of Brian Robinson
By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Wednesday the county commissioners met with Gary Hablutzel of Innovative Benefit Plans, LLC concerning insurance renewal rates for the county.
He presented renewal rates for the fiscal year beginning July 1, which will be about an eight percent increase.
Hablutzel also outlined additional benefits to the employees, one of which is the company pays the first $1,000 for CPAP equipment for those diagnosed with sleep apnea.
The commissioners will also be meeting with representatives from the MACo HealthCare Trust before making a final decision on coverage for the 2010-11 FY.
Kim Harris was in to meet with the commissioners regarding a proposal for payment over time of delinquent property taxes.
He proposed a lump sum payment by July 31 of approximately one-quarter of the amount due with the balance being paid by Sept. 30.
The commissioners advised him they would need to visit with County Attorney Mary Ann Ries before entering into an agreement.
Cheryl Curry from the Port Authority (PA) was on hand and relayed that bids were received from two manufactured home providers for consideration under the grant program to be located on a lot the PA purchased for the Brady project.
Two bids came in the one from American Home Centers for $81,683 was accepted, pending approval of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program staff and the Montana Department of Commerce.
Other visitors at the business meeting included Gary Sullivan, State Coordinator, Division of Realty and Jim Lange an Easement Manager, both of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).
Their purpose was to give the commissioners an overview of the departments request in the federal appropriations budget to expand the easement program along the Rocky Mountain Front.
The easement program began about 2005 and it allows the Service to purchase easements, up to 170,000 acres of private land in Pondera, Teton and Lewis and Clark counties.
Since then approximately 50,000 acres have been acquired.
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on a property in the future.
Service agreements typically prohibit subdivision and development activities but generally allow for continued Ag use.
Funding for the program comes from Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which is subject to the annual Congressional appropriation process.
The LWCF monies are generated from the federal government’s off-shore oil lease royalties and state natural resource agencies.
The LCWF is not funded by income taxes or other taxpayer generated revenues.
The commissioners have a regular business meeting every Wednesday at 10 a.m. in their office at the courthouse. The public is always welcome to attend.