County denies abatement of taxes for property

The county commissioners received a written request from the City of Conrad for the abatement of the 2011 taxes on the building next to city hall at 411-1/2 S. Main Street.

The city has negotiated the purchase of the property with the intent to remodel it and expand city hall.

The seller of the property will pay the delinquent taxes through 2010 with 2011 being the city’s responsibility.

Mary Ann Ries, county attorney, has advised the commissioners to deny the request and Commissioner Sandy Broesder moved on that. Commissioner Joe Christiaens gave a seconded to the motion and Broesder called for discussion.

On hand for the meeting was Agnes Fowler, City Finance Officer. She noted that the bulk of the taxes levied are for the benefit of the city and the landfill district.

The city is asking the county to abate the county’s portion of the tax. Broesder commented that maybe the county could gift the city with the amount of county taxes. Commissioner Cynthia Johnson suggested the county could loan man-power to the city for inside demolition of the property.

Broesder did not feel the precedent of abating taxes for the city was a good policy since other taxpayers would not be given the same treatment.

It was noted that when the county purchased the building for what is now the Pondera Community Center, it assumed and paid all the delinquent and current taxes on the property.

Fowler expressed the hope that the city would get a refund from the landfill for the 2010 taxes since the building was not occupied during the year.

Commissioner Christiaens called for question and the motion to deny abatement of taxes carried on a 3-0 vote.

In other business, the commissioners approved a contract with Keil Harlan for commercial building inspection services.

Harlan is a former employee of the state as a commercial building inspector. He has also entered into a contract with the city as a building inspector.

Under the terms of the contract, he will provide the same service as the State of Montana building inspectors and at the same fee rate.

County Attorney Ries has reviewed the contract and is comfortable with the county entering into the contract as there is no compensation without services. The agreement is structured on an as needed basis.

Christiaens moved to enter into the contract with a second from Broesder.

She asked if the county would have recourse to terminate the agreement based on “satisfactory performance” and who would determine “satisfactory.”

Johnson responded that either party can terminate the agreement upon notice, with or without cause.

The agreement pertains only to those properties outside the borders of the Blackfeet Reservation, the incorporated Town of Valier, and the City of Conrad and is only in effect for commercial structures.

The motion to approve the contract passed on a 3-0 vote.

A number of folks were re-appointed to county boards and they included: Dave Egan - Conrad Cemetery Board; Joanne Gaylord - Valier Cemetery Board; Gerald Bruner - Park Board; Karla Breding - Planning Board; Vicky Hemry - Tax Appeal Board; Sharon Eisenberg - TV Board-Conrad; and Jody Field - the Weed Board.

The commissioners approved a request from Clerk and Recorder (Elections Administrator) Janice Hoppes for the use of the Pondera Community Center as the polling place for Precincts 24, 27 and 28 for the June 5 federal primary election and the Nov. 6 federal general election.

The use will eliminate the need for the county to request days from the city for the use of Norley Hall.

The request for use on the two dates was approved on a 3-0.

Friday morning a public hearing was conducted to see about consolidating the office of Public Administrator (PA) with the County Attorney.

Johnson opened the meeting and noted there had been a question of compensation.

The PA does not receive a monthly salary and fees for services are set in Montana stature.

There would be no additional compensation to the salary of the County Attorney, but when services were preformed as the PA, the compensation would be as stated  in state statutes or by court order.

Johnson also asked for a clarification on the election process.

Clerk and Recorder Hoppes said that if the office was not consolidated at least seven days prior to the filing period for the 2012 elections (Jan. 12) the PA position would need to be on the ballot for 2012.

If, however, the office is consolidated into the county attorney office, prior to seven days before the beginning of filing, the office would first be on the 2014 ballot as the consolidated office.

There was no one from the public to comment on the consolidation.

There were no further questions or comments and Christiaens moved to take the matter under advisement. With second from  Broesder, the motion carried on a 3-0 voter and the hearing was adjourned.