May 14, 2020
May 14, 2020
Commissioners Scott Blain and Bill Bullock; Administrative Officer Angela Newell; Commissioners’ Secretary Barbara Daniel were present in-person; and Gordon Sirrine and Leza Vargas were present via tele-conference.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance
Commissioner Bullock reported on the Roberts Water-Sewer District meeting from yesterday. Between grants and loans, they should be able to upgrade to a modern system.
Newell reported on the upcoming Homeland Security grant for the Computer-Aided Dispatch. Due to timing constraints for grant expenditures (which is based on the Federal Fiscal Year), Newell will investigate options for paying second year maintenance costs so the full grant award can be used.
Commissioner Bullock moved to approve Commissioners’ Proceedings for April 14, 16, 21, 23 of 2020; Commissioner Blain seconded; motion carried.
9:00 Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator / Fire Warden Tom Kohley joined the meeting in-person while Carbon County News Reporter Eleanor Guerrero joined via teleconference. The state 911 Grant program provides funds to 911 centers. This year he plans to submit a grant application for radio microwave links for communications towers. In addition to improving the radio system, these upgrades are necessary to link the Emergency Operations Center at the fairgrounds into the system to provide better internet speeds at that location. Kohley is waiting for quotes from Dunne Communications. He is expecting greater competition this year for more limited funds. No match is required for this grant. Commissioner Bullock moved to approve the 911 Grant application; Commissioner Blain seconded; Kohley stated he will confer with Deputy Carrington who helps manage the communications systems; motion carried.
Commissioner Blain noted that the Bridger Road crew is about ready to deconstruct the old Bridger Radio Tower. Kohley noted the building on skids has some resale value and should be preserved.
Kohley is requesting a quote from Dunne Communications for lighting for the new Bridger tower as requested by Bridger Airport Manager Mark Derudder due to the new tower’s proximity to the airport. It will be paid for with leftover FY19 Homeland Security grant funds.
Kohley reported on his discussions with Rock Creek Resort yesterday pertaining to summer events and compliance with Governor Bullock’s Directives on COVID-19.
Discussion between Newell and Kohley regarding allocating his payroll expenses between the Emergency Management Preparedness Grant (EMPG) and COVID-19 relief funds where there may be funds to pay for his overtime.
9:30 Mayor Bill Larson joined the meeting for his weekly City of Red Lodge update. He reported that Gary Herem was appointed this week to the City-County Airport Board. Two big summer events have cancelled due to COVID-19: Art in the Beartooths and Shakespeare in the Park; the Labor Day Arts Fair is yet to be determined.
9:35 Guerrero and Larson departed the meeting.
9:45 Commissioner Bullock asked Sirrine about the Carbon County News Republican Women article written by Pat Plowman in this week’s paper. Commissioner Bullock felt that the hypothetical Road Superintendent figures presented by Sirrine at the May 6 meeting were off and confusing to readers. Sirrine agreed stating that Plowman’s article left out a few things and that reading it is confusing.
9:50 Macque Bohleen joined the meeting stating that she will need a third elected official for Tuesday’s election canvas agenda item; she will ask Treasurer Lori Lynde to participate.
10:00 County Attorney Alex Nixon tele-conferenced into the weekly meeting, but there was nothing new to discuss. Nixon departed and Deputy County Attorney Jacque Papez joined via tele-conference. With regard to Industrial Communications litigation, Papez gave a procedural update. She reported that expert disclosures were due in April but due to COVID-19, counsel agreed to extend deadlines to July. She said that while procedural updates are appropriate for public forum, litigation strategy will not be discussed in a public forum.
10:05 Meeting closed to discuss Industrial Communications litigation strategy.
10:30 Meeting re-opened for Compensation Board members Pam Crist, Joe Johnson, Gordy Hill, Christine Stovall, Josh McQuillan, and Rochelle Loyning to join in-person. Sirrine re-joined via tele-conference.
Commissioner Blain detailed taxes to be received from the Pryor Mountain Wind Farm project. He expects that oil/gas revenues will not be great in the near-term. He informed the Compensation Board that the Detention Facility bond election will be postponed until COVID-19’s effect on our local economy and taxpayers can be better determined. Newell noted the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous quarter has almost eliminated increases in 2019. 10:35 Vargas rejoined the meeting. Discussion regarding Health Insurance costs for upcoming year; rates will not increase nor will the county’s contribution.
11:15 Alex Nixon tele-conferenced into the meeting. Public members of the Compensation Board recommended a 2% increase. Commissioner Blain noted CPI is 1.8% for this year and was concerned that a 2% raise may be too high given economic uncertainties for the county in considering COVID-19 effects and aftermath. 11:30 Hill, Crist and Johnson departed the meeting. Newell detailed the impacts on the county’s budget given hypothetical increases of 2% vs. 1%. Newell stated that her biggest concern is cash-flow if citizens are unable to pay their property taxes due to COVID-19 impact. The Compensation Board decided to defer decision until after all the May tax payments are received. Commissioner Bullock moved to postpone decision until June 11, 2020; Commissioner Blain seconded. Newell stated that the county will have a better idea at that time whether cash will come up significantly short. Commissioner Blain was surprised by the Compensation Board’s 2% raise recommendation; Commissioner Bullock recounted Crist’s statement recommending operating as “normal”. No public comment. Motion carried.
11:45 Gary Herem, the recently appointed City-County Airport Board member, joined the meeting to introduce himself.