March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023
Commissioners Scott Miller, Scott Blain, and Bill Bullock; and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance.
Commissioners discussed the possible leasing of property in Joliet. Would like to put out RFP.
9:00 Road Foreman Eric Walker, Sam Kallevig, and Tim Blair, Geospatial Information Systems Coordinator / Fire Warden Tom Kohley, and Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) Coordinator Cyrina Allen met with Commissioners to discuss Road Department Radio needs. Allen discussed the option of installing radios in fire equipment and portables for other use. The cost is $700 per mobile and $1100 per portable plus any installation and programming costs. Discussion about programming and various channel options. Discussion of continued challenges with finding someone to program and install on-site for mobiles. Discussion about the need to evaluate existing radios to determine if there are programming or technical issues. Walker does not see any point in purchasing until the current equipment can be evaluated. Discussed sand and sandbag stock and needs in anticipation of spring runoff.
9:30 Allen met regarding the DES Mutual Aid Agreement. Bullock moved to approve Resolution 2023-07 DES Mutual Aid Agreement; Blain seconded; Allen noted she is excited about the agreement and the opportunities to continue to build working relationships and gain experiences with participating counties; motion carried.
Discussed mitigation projects. Grants provide 75% of the project funding and require a 25% match. Carbon gets priority in the initial cycle because we were including the disaster declaration. Projects discussed included: a Preliminary Engineering Report for Rushwater, Riverview, Lovers Lane, and Edgar Fromberg Road– past the intersection with E. Pryor. Also discussed were issues on Dry Creek, Elbow Cr, Selms Road by Loyning Hill, and the need to replace the private bridge on North Tuttle Lane.
10:20 HR Specialist Kate Asbury met for her regular update (written report attached). Asbury presented additional vision options through Blue Cross Blue Sheild.
10:30 Bill Kampher met with Commissioners to discuss the Elections Budget. Election Administrator Crystal Roascio and Clerk and Recorder Macque Bohleen were in attendance. Kampher was complementary of office staff. He expressed concerns about ballots being transferred to a centralized location before it is run through a tabulation machine. Concerned that it could provide opportunities for tampering.
Discussion about ballot chain of custody, ballot and polling place security measures, and costs associated with replacing tabulation machines that lead to the decision to have centralized tabulating, Election Judge training and selection, and current election related legislation that has been proposed.
11:00 Bullock moved to open Public Hearing for the Carbon County Compensation Board; Blain seconded; motion carried. Pam Christ, Gordon Hill, Justice of the Peace Nichols, Treasurer Lori Lynde, Sheriff Josh McQuillan, Clerk and Recorder Macque Bohleen, and Human Resources Specialist Kate Asbury. Asbury provided an overview of medical insurance carrier and plan changes. Newell provided an overview of Consumer Price Index, Montana Average Weekly Wage by County, and the history of Carbon County Elected Official wage increases. Blain the current year-over-year Consumer Price index of 8% is the highest since 1981. Christ and Hill departed to discuss separately. Elected officials discussed County priorities moving forward including the need to maintain sufficient staffing levels to provide services and balancing that with compensation for current staff. McQuillan noted reasons staff in his department decline offers or leave are insurance and housing neither of which can be significantly addressed via a Cost of Living increase. Discussion of inflation on equipment and items necessary to perform job tasks and wage rate compared to other counties in the state. 11:30 Hill and Christ returned and recommended an 8% increase to match inflation. Discussion of the full scope of the County’s budget, historic cuts in road and bridge equipment and supplies to balance the budget; increased staffing in various departments with the note that the Sheriff’s Office is a good litmus test for increased need of County services. Discussion of the possible need for a hiring freeze, limits on equipment upgrades, department wish list items, and the risk of over-committing on payroll obligations. Discussion of public perception of 8% increase; elected officials agreed the higher percentage is not publicly consumable. Miller noted he would prefer a lower increase to prevent freezing wages in the future. Bullock would like to see steady 3-4% annual increases. McQullan supports a 3% increase. 12:10 Nixon joined. Bullock motion to continue Public Hearing on Thursday. Blain seconded; Motion carried.
12:13 Meeting closed for litigation strategy.
12:25 Meeting reopened. Lunch
1:00 Alternatives meeting. Present were: County Attorney Alex Nixon, Justice of the Peace Kevin Nichols, Sheriff Josh McQuillan, Public Health Director Erin Cross, Cheyenne Wiley from Carbon Alternatives, Kara Padilla-Jablanski from Alternatives Inc, Red Lodge City Attorney Dennison Butler, and Red Lodge City Judge Raphael HeDoesIt. McQuillan has reached out to other counties for sample job descriptions and would anticipate overlapping and cross-training with current staff for redundancy. Nichols only concern was making sure there was coverage. Dennison asked about the City’s financial contribution to the program; Bullock noted it would likely be based on usage similar to the dispatch formula. Nixon believes the extra cost can be justified as an increase in the need for jail offsets with jail availability continuing to be a challenge. Nichols would like more consistency on pre-trial monitoring for those that can not afford it; would like to see some sort of sliding scale income-based allowance rather than an all-or-nothing fee. Butler asked about the cost of providing services; suggested sliding scale go both up and down so those with more means pay a higher ceiling rate to help cover the cost of those who cannot afford it. McQuillan echoed comments on jail space challenges. Discussion of device maintenance costs and the initial cost of investing in the monitoring equipment. Blain asked about the volume of clients from the various courts in the County; Wiley noted the majority are referred from Justice Court, City of Red Lodge Court, and District Court. Discussion about coordination with crisis coalition/crisis response team, case management follow-up, preferred monitoring systems, and the sliding scale fees used by Public Health for their programs. Discussed the fee collection process and billing challenges. Bullock moved to renew the Alternatives Inc. Services agreement; Blain seconded; Blain noted he does not believe the increased cost is significant and likes the idea of having local control over the program. Bullock echoed Blain’s comments; noted Carbon’s growth and challenges with access to detention facilities. Motion failed all three voting in opposition. Bullock requested McQuillan begin to develop a transition plan, job descriptions, and operating procedures.
Blain moved to write a letter terminating the Agreement with Alternatives Inc.; Bullock seconded; motion carried.
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer