March 16, 2017
March 16, 2017
Commissioners Doug Tucker, John Grewell, and John Prinkki were present.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance
Commissioners received a letter from the Election Office accepting Resolution 2017-03 Requesting a Mail Ballot Election for the 2017 Federal Special Election to Fill the Office of the United States Representative for Montana, Contingent upon Passage of SB30.
Commissioner Grewell moved approval of the March 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 9th Commissioners’ Proceedings; Commissioner Prinkki seconded; motion carried.
9:00 Civil Deputy Attorney Jacque Papez met with Commissioners. They discussed the possibility of a commissioner working for another government entity. Jacque noted if the work hours for the other position do not overlap with Commissioner hours it is ok, but because Commissioners are salary and do not have set hours the issue is not clear. Jacque noted issue would be for the individual commissioner to address with the Public Service Commission; the County would not have any liability.
9:15 County Attorney Alex Nixon joined the meeting. Discussed IT contract.
9:40 Commissioner Prinkki moved to approve Certified Local Government grant; Commissioner Grewell seconded; motion carried.
Commissioners and County Attorney discussed the Morrison Mariele Systems Information Technology contract; they would like to stay with the current contract as the proposed revised contracts are more expensive. Commissioner Grewell expressed concerns with having only one person who is familiar with system in the Court House and believes contracted services better protect the County.
10:00 Gary Verkleeren and Masahiro (Mas) Ogiso from EverPower met with Commissioners. Commissioner Prinkki recused himself. DES Coord. / GIS Mgr. Tom Kohley, County Attorney Alex Nixon, Civil Deputy County Attorney Jacque Papez, and Carbon County News reporter Eleanor Guerrero were present. Gary took over as the project manager in January 2017. EverPower is progressing through the final steps to secure an incidental eagle take permit through the U.S. Fish Wildlife Services; the final eagle survey will be completed in May. They continue to work with the Montana Sage Grouse Oversight team and the Department Fish, Wildlife, & Parks regarding sage grouse mitigation. EverPower is still in negotiations with PacificCorp regarding the power purchase agreement and is continuing the complaint process through the Wyoming Public Service Commission; all construction is on hold until the power purchase agreement is finalized. Gary and Mas noted the quantitative aspects of the project are “on life support.”
With many financial aspects of the project not yet finalized there is concern that tax equity investors will not find the project appealing. EverPower would like to “lock down” as many financial components as they can on the project to know what power price is needed to make the project work. They believe the project will be a benefit to the County even with the New and Expanding Industry (NEI) tax abatements. EverPower would like the NEI Resolutions to be revised without conditions regarding the project’s return on investment, restricting the right to protest taxes, and for the tax abatement to take affect after the project is up and running. EverPower would like to fight for the project; it will be the largest project they have at 240mwh. Commissioner Grewell noted the return on investment provision was the County’s attempt to share benefits if the project received a higher than anticipated power purchase agreement. Mas apologized for their predecessors focusing on the return on investment; there are many assumptions that go into the calculation. County Attorney Alex Nixon asked why they objected to the tax protest provision. Mas noted that when looking for financing it would make the project less appealing; EverPower needs the ability to appeal the tax assessment if the Department of Revenues’ assumptions of costs are incorrect. Commissioner Prinkki noted the protest provision was inserted because Tool County granted the NEI to a wind project and the company then protested their taxes and the County’s anticipated tax revenues from the project were cut in half. The intent of the provision was not to prevent negotiations, but to prevent taxes being protested after the County had already budgeted the revenue. Commissioner Grewell noted NorthWestern Energy is paying a significantly higher rate for wind energy than what has been proposed by PacificCorp; Gary noted costs are subject to change significantly and are dependent on the transmission. Commissioners asked about the impact fee that is overdue. Mas and Gary had not had that discussion with their legal counsel. Commissioner Grewell thanked the EverPower representatives for being more forthright than their predecessors.
11:00 Commissioner Tucker opened the Public Hearing on the petition to adopt East Rosebud Road as a County Road. Cecelia Smith, Richard Lewallen, Joe and Judy Rich, Mary Ellen Mangus, Shelley and Dave MacAusland, Mark and Threse Morse, Ray Masters, Zoe Smith, Ken Coffin, Frank Annighofer, J.O. Hash, Brian Ostwald, County Attorney Alex Nixon, and Civil Deputy Attorney Jacque Papez were present. Commissioners noted the most recent petition has had signatures verified and will have a public hearing in April; comments today will be included in the findings for the subsequent public hearing.
Joe Rich representing the East Rosebud Lake home owners, stated the homeowners at the lake are in favor of the County adopting the road as a County road. They would like the road to be of the same quality as other county roads. There are some individuals concerned about the County’s future plans for the road, including paving the road.
Commissioner Prinkki recommended that the road be adopted as a county road with an accompanying special road improvement district so landowners would be able to determine the level of maintenance on the road.
Dave MacAausland stated he did not believe a road improvement district is appropriate unless it would give landowners the ability to control access. He noted fifty percent of road users are recreationists and not residents; Mr. MacAusland does not believe landowners should have to pay in addition to their taxes for the maintenance.
Shelly MacAusland and Ray Masters expressed concerns regarding safety and emergency responder access with the present condition of the road.
Mark Morse would like to see the road adopted as a County road with maintenance to keep the road passable. He would like the road improvement district revisited if the road is to be improved in the future.
Ken Coffin Forest Service District Ranger expressed his support for the road being adopted as a county road; it is an important road for forest recreation access.
Threse Morse noted businesses in the county receive retail sales from residents and recreationists and that the condition of the road reduces trips to town. Mary Ellen Mangus noted Sylvan Peak customers have noted the poor condition of the road. She appreciated the County plowing the road at Christmas.
Commissioner Prinkki asked the public what their expectation was for maintenance; he noted the road had not historically received any winter maintenance. Richard Lewallen commented that people live up there year-round and there is a public safety issue if there is no winter plowing. He believes it is wrong to create a special improve district because of the high recreation use of the road. Mr. Lewallen commented that the taxes he pays should warrant higher maintenance on the road.
Dave MacAusland believes there are some improvements that need to be made to the road including removing protruding rocks and improving water drainage. He believes it is reasonable to have winter plowing even at the lowest priority. He does not believe the cost of improvements would be significant in relation to the use an benefits of the road.
Commissioner Grewell noted a special road improvement district would allow landowners to make decisions regarding the level of road maintenance. He noted there are a number of other roads in the county that access forest service land and subdivisions that are not county roads.
March 16, 2017 (cont.)
Frank Annighofer noted he believes the road should have minimum maintenance and is 100% opposed to the creation of a special road improvement district because of the high recreation use on the road.
Commissioner Tucker noted budget constraints and there are only so many resources for the whole county. Public hearing closed.
11:30 DES Coord. / GIS Mgr. Tom Kohley met with Commissioners for Certification of Roadway mileage. Tom had some minimal changes to what was received from the State. Commissioner Prinkki moved to approve the Certification of 2018 Roadway Mileage as amended; Commissioner Grewell seconded; motion carried.
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Assistant