GETTING IT LEVEL – County crews were using the heavy equipment this past week to level the parking lot at the new community center. The drive-in was higher than the entrance and sloped towards the approach of the new building and would have created water problems in the future. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
During their regular Wednesday morning meeting, the commissioners discussed the funding for the libraries in Conrad and Valier.
The inequity of the funding issue comes up every year. Readers will recall that in 1961 the county had a library board that distributed the funds based on a pro-rate in which the market value of the Valier cemetery district was divided by the market value of the Conrad cemetery district, resulting in a prorated calculation equating to the market value of the Valier cemetery district to be 43 percent of the Conrad cemetery district.
The taxes were levied countywide and 43 percent went to Valier and 57 percent to the Conrad library.
In reality, the formula should have been calculated by dividing the value of each cemetery district by the value of the entire county to determine the pro-rate for each.
The 57/43 percent split has been used since at least 1970 and more likely since 1961.
The commissioners believe the pro-rate based on the market or a taxable value of the two cemetery districts is an appropriate split.
However, they determined that a more mathematically sound prorate would be to divide the value of each by the value of the whole, which results in approximately 70/30 percent split for Conrad/Valier respectively.
Following their discussion, Commissioner Joe Christiaens moved that the county, for FY-2012 and 2013, levy mills sufficient to provide the same dollars as FY-2010 and to distribute the dollars using the pro-rate of the taxable value of the whole.
With respect to the voted levy, the dollars will continue to be distributed at the 57/43 percent ration as that was the understanding presented during the campaign to promote passage of the levy.
The voted levy ends in 2014 and the two libraries will need to go to the voters for total funding.
Commissioner Sandy Broesder seconded (the motion) for the purpose of putting the matter to a vote of the commission. Christiaens called for discussion.
Broesder stated she seconded the motion for the purposes of bringing the motion to a vote, however, she feels the two library boards should get together and provide a pro-rate that is acceptable to both.
The vote was called and motion carried on a 2-1 vote. Commissioners Cynthia Johnson and Christiaens voted yeas and Broesder voted against.
In other action, Resolution-6 was passed which authorized salary increases to be adopted for elected officials and employees.
The increases were approved by the commissioners on a recommendation of the compensation board.
The County Treasurer, Clerk of Court and Clerk and Recorder will each be paid $40,352.32 plus $2,000 for the treasurer and recorder as allowed by state statue.
The commissioners will receive $42,353.32, plus an additional $2,000 as required by state stature.
The Sheriff/Coroner will be paid $43,638.80 which includes an additional $2,000.
The county attorney will be paid $79,023.84. The state will reimburse the county at a rate set by MCA-codes.
The Justice of the Peace will be paid $32,786.26 (81.25 percent of full-time) pursuant to the MCA-codes and the County Superintendent of Schools will receive $32,796.26 (81.25 percent of full-time) plus $200 per year additional compensation by state statutes.
In addition, the commissioners set the compensation for the full-time and regular part-time employees at an increase of $.10 per hour and the Road/Bridge Department Supervisor will increase to monthly salary at the rate of $.10 per hour.
The gross wages for deputies to elected officials will be calculated at 95 percent for the undersheriff, 90 percent for chief sheriff’s deputy and 86 percent for all other deputies and deputies to other elected officials.
Hourly rates will remain the same for temporary employees and part-time employees working fewer than 750 hours per year.
The resolution passed on a 3-0 vote of the commissioners.
In other business, a tax abatement was approved. A mobile home in Valier was demolished over a year ago. The delinquencies, penalty and interest total $515.14 and include four years of landfill charges.
Broesder moved to request the Department of Revenue prepare an abatement on the tax parcel and the taxes be deemed uncollectable.
An excavation agreement requested by Jerry Habets to excavate under Belgian Road for the purpose of installing buried irrigation pipe 30 inches below the field grade was approved.
Also approved by the commissioners was the county vendor invoice for the fiscal year’s junk vehicle program.
The county will receive $9,573 for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. This funds the junk vehicle program in the county.
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Montana requested the use of the community center on Oct. 25-27 for four hours each for training sessions and presentations.
The approval use was given with rent for the facility to be $50 per day.
Commissioners have a business meeting each Wednesday at 10 a.m. in their courthouse office.
The public is always welcome and encouraged to attend to view their government at work.