Yellowstone County’s new attorney, Scott Twito, will hit the ground running as he assumes the reins of his new office in January.
In a discussion with Yellowstone County Commissioners, Twito explained some changes that he plans which will impact the day to day functions of the commissioners. In a later interview, Twito explained some of his ideas and outlined objectives he has for the office.
Twito has named Rod Souza as the Chief Deputy County Attorney.
ExxonMobil will not protest their property tax assessment – this year.
In a letter to county officials and Lockwood School, ExxonMobil announced today that the company has “elected not to appeal the Billings Refinery 2010 property tax assessment.” Refinery Manager Jon R. Wetmore said in the letter that “ExxonMobil recognizes the importance of stable and predictable tax revenues so local school districts and counties can plan and prioritize their funding needs.”
UPDATE - 12-16-2010
Following a meeting with school officials on Thursday, Conoco Phillips officials issued a statement regarding their plan to protest the company’s 2010 property taxes.
In the meeting with School District 2 and Lockwood School officials, as well as other education leadership, Conoco explained that they saw a property tax increase of 37 percent over 2009. Travis Sloan, Public Affairs officer for Conoco, said that the company supports a five percent increase, which would raise them to $5.1 million as compared to $4.9 million in 2009. They are appealing the remaining 32 percent increase or $1.6 million total, for taxes which must be paid in two annual payments. Property taxes are payable by Nov. 31 and May 31.
The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) would like to notify the public and seek comments on a proposal to resurface about 1 mile of Grand Avenue, located in Billings, Montana. The project begins at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Grand at reference marker 3.9 and extends east for 1 mile ending at the intersection of Grand and Division Street at reference marker 4.9.
Proposed work includes milling the existing surface, applying a new overlay, and upgrading pavement markings.
The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2011.
The Billings Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that they will not pursue a countywide vote for a Rimrock Auto Arena reconstruction bond at this time.
A survey of membership a few weeks ago indicated broad support for a bond that could help fund a second phase of refurbishing of the arena which was damaged in a tornado, and which is currently undergoing restoration. A master plan, however, recommended improvements that cannot be covered by insurance and county funding which will be exhausted at the completion of the first phase.
Musselshell County has filed suit asking a Helena District Court to direct the Montana Department of Revenue (DOR) to give all the gross proceeds taxes that come from Signal Peak coal mine to Musselshell County. Last June when tax revenues were disbursed, the DOR divided the revenues between Yellowstone and Musselshell Counties based upon where the coal seam lies. Musselshell received $328,617 and Yellowstone County received $126,909.
Musselshell County believes that it deserves all of the revenues because the mouth of the coal mine is in Musselshell, and also because they have provided the public infrastructure and maintenance of roads that serve the mine. In a suit, filed on October 6, against DOR and Yellowstone County, Musselshell County seeks monetary damages and a declaratory judgment for the 2009 coal tax proceeds.
The tax revenues at issue are generated by a five percent gross proceeds tax and the Coal Severance Tax.
This session of the Montana State Legislature is being viewed by Yellowstone County commissioners as one in which they will be fighting to “hold our own.” They recently discussed the expectations and strategies for county-related issues with their lobbyist, Ed Bartlett, and agreed to renew his $12,000 contract to represent the county.
The primary focus during the 2011 Legislative Session will be “to protect our pocket books,” said Commissioner John Ostlund, who heads the Montana Association of Counties and plans to spend considerable time at the state legislature.
A review of the achievements of Big Sky Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) last week marked the annual meeting on Thursday of EDC, which was highlighted by the appearance of Governor Brian Schwietzer as keynote speaker at a luncheon, of board members and community dignitaries.
EDC is the member non-profit organization which sisters with the county’s economic development agency, EDA. EDA staff and its director, Steve Arveschoug, serve both organizations.
The Big Sky Business Journal
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Billings, MT 59103