March 9, 2023

March 9, 2023
Commissioners Scott Miller and Bill Bullock; and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance.
Red Lodge Rural Fire Chief Tom Kuntz met with Commissioners regarding Ambulance District Funding; because of inflation, Kuntz would like to explore changing funding from a flat per-parcel fee to a mill value. Kuntz noted that agricultural parcels could be exempted and that currently, a hotel pays the same rate as a single-family home whereas, with a mill assessment, the burden would be more evenly shared by commercial properties. To achieve the inflationary equivalent of the original funding they would be looking at 22 mills. Kuntz noted no adjustments have been made to the fee since it was enacted at $69 per lot; at today’s inflation, it would now be $95. Discussion of various tax classifications in different areas of the district (ie. City of Red Lodge vs. rural Roberts). Kuntz noted the goal would be to have a vote in time for the change to affect 2024 tax bills. Kuntz has also started the conversation with the City of Red Lodge. Discussion about the need for similar districts in the rest of the County because of the limited response capabilities of volunteer organizations and the lag time for Red Lodge to respond to other areas of the County.
9:00 Sanitarian Director Barbara Krizek, Sanitarian Jesse Gutierrez, and Assistant Lori Kane met for the Environmental Health Department’s Monthly update. Krizek reviewed her written report (attached). Discussed Septic Installer training; Krizek noted the licensing burden is completely on local jurisdictions. Krizek request for use of the County Building budget for printing the “Development Process Guide;” Commissioners denied the request noting maintenance expenditure obligation. Discussion regarding the assignment of a Code Enforcement Officer; with the Sheriff’s Office not having Deputy positions fully staffed he has not yet made the assignment. Bullock directed Krizek to put her documentation and paperwork together so that once Code enforcement is up and running there is no delay; Commissioners reaffirmed that the Officer’s position will not be to run around and find or inspect for compliance issues. Discussion of Short-Term Rental Inspections. The County Fee Schedule allows for plan review fees of $150 per Public Accommodation statutes; Vandell was not assessing this fee, but Gutierrez will going forward.
9:30 Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) Coordinator Cyrina Allen met for her monthly update. Allen informed Commissioners of a Motor Vehicle Accident with multiple injuries east of Edgar. Allen discussed the tour with contractors for the removal of woody debris; contractors share the County’s concerns about rock bar deposits.

The state has requested a list of rock bar deposits; discussed various locations of rock deposits that could pose problems. Allen will forward the Department of Commerce information regarding the economic impacts of the flood. Commissioners approved Allen’s attendance at the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Conference at the end of April in Atlanta. Discussed the Fromberg flood Table Top Exercise for flood response; Bullock would like the Exercise to help shift the focus onto property owners and municipalities as the first line of defense. Allen would like the exercise to focus on first responder rolls. Discussion about appointment of municipal DES coordinators to manage the internal response for the municipalities. Bullock commended Allen’s efforts to establish her role in the County.
Discussion about permitting for completed flood repair projects and options for getting the work done to keep projects from going into Environmental and Historic Preservation non-compliance.

Allen noted work on the County Active Shooter program that will be rolled out for exercises at County schools.

Bullock moved to accept the Justice Court End of Period Disbursement for February; Miller seconded; motion carried.

10:40 Commissioner Scott Blain joined the meeting. Allen met to discuss road radio contractor options. Garteiz has Workers’ Compensation Insurance waiver, but no liability insurance; his rate is $150/hour to procure and install radios in Road Department equipment. Bullock moved to approve Liability Insurance waiver and authorization to enter into an agreement with Steve Garteiz; Blain seconded; Bullock noted concerns about setting a precedent for future contractors; Blain asked if he is unable or unwilling to get liability insurance; Allen noted the conversation was that ongoing liability insurance costs would likely make the hourly rate too high. Bullock noted he would not be in favor of utilizing a contractor without liability insurance; he noted past history of rejecting contractors without liability and the significant exposure for possible equipment damage. Blain is concerned about the rate per hour with no liability; noting that was the rate for equipment operators for flood response with liability insurance. Motion failed with all three in opposition.

11:00 Allen; State DES representatives Andrew Long, Sheri Pool, Amanda Avara, and Hannah Shultz; and Fromberg Mayor Tim Nottingham met to discuss the hazard mitigation grant program and projects.

Long presented a slideshow of FEMA mitigation definitions and the benefits of mitigation to for future disaster recovery. Noted Counties affected by flooding in June 2022 have grant priority. Discussion of project eligibility, application requirements, and environmental considerations and review. Program has a 9-month approval period and a 3-year construction time period. Pre-award costs are eligible but must be identified in the application. The application deadline is June 14th for jurisdictions with priority and projects do not need to be flooding-related but can be related to any natural hazards. Discussed private property acquisition and the possibility of constructing retention or diversion structures. Nottingham asked about the process; Fromberg is their own affected entity and would have their own application. Nottingham discussed dredging significant portions of the river; Hartley noted the need for a full Hydrologic and Hydraulic study to prove river elevation changes for navigate permitting with the various agencies involved in the process which will include an extensive environmental and historical review. Discussion between DES representatives and Nottingham about various evaluations, funding streams,

Allen and the Commissioners discussed various County mitigation projects.

12:40 Emily Schneller, Representative Rosendale’s Field Representative, met with Commissioners for an update. Bullock noted continued push from FEMA for regulatory components of flood projects and significant log jam with our Engineers and their time commitments. Emily noted conversations with FEMA on Stillwater County’s behalf regarding timelines etc. Bullock noted rule changes for J1 (international workers) and how changes in living requirements have hamstringed options for utilization the program with current housing limitations. Discussed Waters of the United States (WotUS) changes; Schneller didn’t have an update yet, and believes there is the possibility of a Supreme Court ruling. Discussion of the push to “plow the plug” east of Cook City; White Bark Pine Tree Endangered Species listing and lack of collaboration with local partners. Concerns about fire mitigation implications.


Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer