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June 11, 2020

COMMISSIONERS’ PROCEEDINGS
June 11, 2020

Commissioners Scott Blain and Bill Bullock and Commissioners’ Secretary Barbara Daniel were present.

8:30 Pledge of Allegiance

Clerk and Recorder Christine Stovall approached the Commissioners about requesting that a secretary, who would not be Stovall, be appointed on the Tax Appeal Board; Commissioners supported Stovall’s request.

9:00 Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) yearly update provided by Jeff Bollman and Derek Yeager. Carbon County News reporter Eleanor Guerrero joined via tele-conference. Continued discussion regarding County roads running through State School Trust lands and the money the State seeks to acquire from the County to pay for those road easements. Discussion regarding historic roads leading to Trust lands; as an example, Commissioner Blain questioned why the County would potentially be asked to pay 2020 real estate prices for Bluewater Road that’s been there for over a hundred years when it simply ends at the State Fish Hatchery. Historic road legislation is set to expire October 1, 2021. Bollman acknowledged that there are cases of a road existing before State ownership and that DNRC will continue to work with the County on these historic roads. DNRC is continuing work with Red Lodge Mountain on timber thinning on private and National Forest land. Regarding fire, DNRC aims to focus on initial attack. Due to COVID-19, response times for aid this summer will be around 72 hours instead of the usual 36 hours for personnel; this will put an increased burden on local initial response. This is because dispersed personnel must go through COVID-19 pre-screening upon departure/arrival and before deploying to aid locally. Fire chiefs will be staffing stations at the end of the month. Some municipalities are banning public firework displays, but the concern is that private citizens will set off their own and increase fire danger. Guerrero departed the meeting.

9:30 Red Lodge Mayor Bill Larson and City Council Representative Mary Cameron joined for the city’s weekly update. Larson thanked Newell for helping the City figure out the FEMA COVID-19 reimbursement process. There will be a scoping meeting tonight for the 4th of July parade in light of COVID-19 considerations and restrictions. Mayor Larson will be meeting with bar owners to outline Beartooth Rally COVID-19 protection measures. Commissioner Bullock communicated that COVID-19 drive-through Sentinel testing will be conducted tomorrow and Saturday at the Red Lodge High School; he has requested that the Governor’s office not attend the testing due to perceptions of campaigning during an election year. The Incident Management Team will scale down and going forward COVID-19 responsibilities will reside primarily with Public Health (Nurses Roberta Cady and Sheila Boggio, and Dr. Bill George).

10:00 County Attorney Alex Nixon joined for his weekly update. Stovall rejoined the meeting and Administrative Officer Angela Newell joined the meeting. Discussion regarding County (Town of Roberts) dump land in Roberts that Robert Mensik asked to purchase; Commissioners recommended including the land in a Fall auction. Stovall reported that her office has corrected deeds ready to be reviewed by the County Attorney before recording; these are for land that the County had obtained from a coal company years ago in the City of Red Lodge Second Addition where some of the streets and alleys were vacated and the County had sold the land. Stovall would like that process concluded and recorded; Commissioner Bullock concurred.

10:15 Meeting closed to discuss personnel matters.

10:30 Meeting re-opened.

Phil Mankin, realtor for Norman and Geraldine Stevens, joined the meeting to inquire about the results from May’s tax revenue (which the Commissioners had previously stated they wanted before proceeding with land purchase plans); Blain responded that May tax revenue came in favorably (on-par with the 10-year average) and the County will proceed with the proposed detention facility property purchase. Though the August bond election has been postponed due to COVID-19 economic uncertainties at this time, Commissioners concurred that since much research, planning, and cost has gone into this specific property, they wish to purchase the property in preparation for an eventual bond election.

10:30 Compensation Board meeting joined by Nixon, Stovall, Sheriff Josh McQuillan, and District Court Clerk Rochelle Loyning (via tele-conference). Blain reminded the Board that at the previous Compensation Board meeting the public citizen members of the Compensation Board recommended a 2% raise. Newell reported that taxes received in May were on-par for the 10-year average. She also reported that due to COVID-19, FEMA will be reimbursing the County for budgeted wages for law enforcement officers through the end of the calendar year; the first reimbursement request for March 12 – May 31 will provide over $300k back to the County’s budget. With the Consumer Price Index at 1.8% and County tax revenue solid, Commissioner Bullock recommended following the public citizen members’ recommendation of 2% for all employees. Commissioner Blain was concerned about public perception vs. reality and advocated for 1%. Stovall, McQuillan, and Loyning stated that their employees aren’t expecting a raise and are satisfied with their fringe benefits. 10:50 Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Kuntz joined the meeting. Commissioner Bullock moved to approve a County employee raise of 1.3%; Commissioner Blain seconded; motion carried.

10:55 Guerrero rejoined the meeting via tele-conference.

11:00 Discussion regarding the COVID-19 Incident Management Team (IMT). Kuntz stated that the Team structure is helpful to have in-place to stay ahead of the curve so we can keep businesses open and not have to re-close, but that it can be scaled down at this point in time. 11:05 Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Tom Kohley and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jason Mahoney joined the meeting. Mahoney echoed that it’s important to have a Team structure in place so that when a vaccine comes out and there needs to be a mass vaccination event or a second wave of COVID-19 arises (as occurred with the 1918 Spanish Flu), the County is prepared. Discussion regarding this weekend’s community drive-through Sentinel testing and what the results will mean and determine. Kuntz stressed the importance of early contagion detection through on-going testing through the summer tourist season, especially with front-line workers such as grocery and restaurant workers. Newell discussed leveraging federal funding resources (reimbursable expenses) to set up Public Health spaces in anticipation of a potential surge. Commissioner Blain supported the community testing event as a step towards moving to Phase 3 re-opening. Kohley discussed the future of the IMT’s event review process. Commissioner Bullock voiced that there is a mis-perception that it is an “approval” process rather than a helpful review of compliance with Governor’s guidelines. Discussion regarding Board of Health role in an actual approval process for large-scale events (greater than 500 people) as per an amended County Resolution. Kuntz will call the Governor’s office requesting a sit-down meeting to discuss the County’s challenges with the Governor’s orders and interpreting them.

12:00 Special Board of Health Meeting attended by Mahoney, Kohley, McQuillan, Nixon, Dick Nolan, Sanitarian Cortney Lynde, and Becky Frank (tele-conference). 12:20 Guerrero departed the meeting. Commissioner Bullock moved to approve Resolution 2020-17 Governing Public Health, Safety, and Security for Large Group Functions; Commissioner Blain seconded; changes to reflect a reduction in the number of people to 500 and additional language to allow a permit to be revoked in the case of a natural disaster or emergency declaration; motion carried.

12:45 Kohley approached Commissioners regarding a purchase request form previously submitted for a transfer switch; costs are approximately $2k above what was quoted; he will circle back with vendor to dispute. Kohley will be coordinating with the National Guard this afternoon to coordinate logistics for tomorrow’s community COVID-19 drive-through testing event.

1:00 Adjourned.