Libraries agree to tax levy language

After a special meeting on Monday, the Conrad and Valier libraries agreed, at least for this election, to language for a combined tax levy sufficient to fund and operate library services at the two facilities.

Readers will recall that earlier, the commissioners had approved requests of the two libraries to place tax levy requests on the June primary ballot.

Since then, in a discussion with the Montana Association of Counties (MACo), it was brought to the attention of the commissioners that the two questions, which were identical except for the dollar amount requested, would best serve the interests of the county and its voters if they were combined into one question on the ballot.

At a regular Thursday business  meeting, representatives from the two libraries were on hand to meet with the commissioners.

They included Carolyn Donath, Stephanie Moerkerke from the Conrad Library and McKenzie Graye, Mayor of Valier and Brent Gaylord.

There was a spirited conversation concerning the funding ballot language, in which Donath noted the two sides had tried to come up with one question, but could not reach a consensus for the amounts to be requested.

The Valier Library decided they would put their question on the ballot. The Conrad Library board felt they put in a “very conservative” amount because they were under the impression that the two issues would be separate questions on the ballot. They feel that if the two questions are combined into one, the feeling of the Conrad board representatives was that their levy request was too low.

At the end of the meeting on Monday, the two entities were able to agree to a unified question for the tax levy request in the June primary.

The question reads, “Shall the Pondera County Commissioners be authorized to levy sufficient additional mills on all taxable property with Pondera County to generate $234,500, (about 16.88 mills), plus an inflationary factor allowed by Montana law, each year for eight (8) years, beginning with tax year 2014, to provide funding to operate and maintain library services at the Conrad and Valier libraries?”

The financial impact of the total of $234,500 on a home having a market value of $50,000 is estimated to be $11.05 each year of the levy, $22.10 for a home having a market value of $100,000 and $44.20 for a home with a value of $200,000.

Of the total funding requested, the Conrad Library would receive $165,000, plus an inflationary factor and the Valier Library would receive $69,500, plus the inflationary factor.

On a side note, in 2006, county voters approved a levy request which expires in 2014.

About $104,419 (7.52) mills of this levy request is a continuation of the 2006 request.

About $848,810 (3.14 mills) of this request is to replace county funding that will no longer be levied for the libraries, beginning with tax year 2014.

Approximately $81,271 of this request will be used for past shortfalls and continued service.

In other business at the Thursday meeting, held one day later than usual because two commissioners were at a NACo meeting.

Commissioners received two bids to upgrade wiring in a shed for storing pickup trucks, one from Kronebusch Electric for  between $,1500 and $1,800 and one from A&H Electric out of Valier of $945. On a 3-0 vote, the bid was awarded to A&H Electric.

The commissioners also declared a 1998 Ford LTD Crown Victoria sheriff’s vehicle as surplus property. The minimum market value is $1,775.

There will be a public auction for the car on March 28 at 10 a.m. from the front steps of the courthouse, 20 4th Ave. SE.

For further information or to ask questions, contact Sheriff Tom Kuka at 271-4060.

The next regular meeting of the commissioners will be Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the office at the courthouse. The public is always invited to attend and view their government officials at work.