Top Yellowstone County Property Taxpayers
Yellowstone County’s largest taxpayer is Northwestern Corporation, according to Max Lenington, County Assessor /Treasurer, who announced the top ten taxpayers. The company will pay almost $14.5 million in tax to the county in 2009.
Billings taxpayers will see a slight property tax increase for 2009, said Lenington, however, taxpayers in Laurel and Worden/Huntley project will see significant increases as a result of voter-approved bond issues for school construction and improvements. Total tax receivables county-wide for 2009 will exceed $180 million.
The top ten taxpayers are:
1. Northwestern Corp. $14,484.283
2. Conoco Phillips $11,671,229
3. CHS Cenex $11,505,101
4. Exxon Mobil Corporation $7,456,401
5. Qwest Corporation $3,874,957
6. PPL Montana, LLC $3,537,524
7. Burlington Northern/Santa Fe RR $3,015,626
8. Puget Sound Energy & Transmission $2,428,532
9. Montana Dakota utilities Co. $1,620,237
10 WWC Holdings (Alltel) $1,561,700
The Resource Conservation and Development Areas in Montana recognized an anniversary in September. There are presently 375 such areas throughout the nation. There are eight RC&Ds in Montana; the first was the Bitter Root RC&D created in 1965; the twelfth to be formed nationwide.
Montana’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) budget allocations for 2009 RC&D projects total more than $1 million. The funds are used to support community projects under the direction of district councils comprised of local leaders. RC&D councils also obtain assistance from other local, state, and Federal agencies; private organizations; and foundations.
Nationally, RC&Ds serve more than 85 percent of U.S. counties and over 80 percent of the U.S. population.
Last year, RC&Ds:
* completed more than 4,300 projects in US,
* created more than 800 new businesses,
* expanded 1,524 community businesses,
* created 5,200 new jobs,
* conserved 19,278 miles of streams,
* conserved 1.3 million acres of lakes and other water bodies,
* improved 2.42 million acres of wildlife habitat,
* developed new skills for nearly 932,000 people, and
* served more than 21.1 million citizens nationwide.
For more information go to http:// www. mt.nrcs. usda.gov/.
SBA Loans Increase 79%
SBA’s Montana District Office saw a 79 percent increase in loan activity since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed on February 17th. The office approved 370 7(a) and 504 loans worth $60.9 million since the Recovery Act was signed into law. A total of 64 America’s Recovery Capital Loans (ARC) worth $2.3 million was also approved. For the full fiscal year 2009, which ended September 30th, the Montana District Office approved a total of 479 7(a) and 504 loans valued at $78 million. This compares to 362 loans worth $82.3 million in the previous year.
Breakout of total loans approved during FY 2009
* Of the 479 total loans approved during FY 2009, 465 loans totaling $69 million were made through the agency’s 7(a) Guaranty Loan Program which provides short or long term financing for small business start-up or expansion needs.
* 14 loans totaling $9.1 million were made through the 504 Certified Development Company program which provides long term fixed rate financing for land, buildings and equipment.
* 190 loans totaling $29 million were made to women owned businesses
* 55 loans worth $5 million were made to veterans
* 33 loans totaling $6.9 million were made to minority business owners.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided the SBA with $730 million to temporarily eliminate most borrower loan fees and raised the SBA guarantee to 90 percent on most loan programs. The Recovery Act also provided for two new loan programs - the America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) Stabilization Loan and the Dealer Floor Plan (DFP) Pilot Program (a type of financing for inventory for most auto dealers). In fact, the second Dealer Floor Plan loan in the nation was made to Mission Valley Auto in Polson, MT.
Prospera Business Network and the Montana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the organization has been awarded a $750,000 grant to establish the Montana Women’s Business Center. The SBA funding is provided to economic development organizations that directly assist women in business.
“This new business assistance program will be a great resource for Montana’s women in business,” said SBA Montana District Director, Michelle Johnston. “The training and counseling provided by the Women’s Business Center fills a gap in the existing business assistance resources available in Montana. We are delighted to see a Women’s Business Center established in Montana,” continued Johnston.
Northend Bypass Proposed as a Phased Project
While it’s taking so long to do the environmental impact study (EIS) that no one seemed able to remember when it started, plans for the Northend Bypass have not been abandoned. The issue of how to proceed with the proposed thoroughfare that could divert as much as 30 percent of the traffic off Main Street and funnel truck traffic around the “bottleneck” at Metra Park, was front and center as the topic of discussion at the Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting, last week.
It was revealed at the meeting, that the EIS may never be completed due to “insurmountable barriers,” but then if the decision is made to build the highway in phases, as County Commission Bill Kennedy is proposing, the entire EIS may not be necessary at this time. But the EIS must be concluded in a way that it is accepted by federal officials for a “decision of record.”
Getting the PCC to accept Kennedy’s abbreviated proposal, as a priority in Yellowstone County’s Transportation Plan, will be an important step in the process. “It’s up to us locally how we want to proceed,” Transportation Director Scott Walker told the PCC.
A victim of the economic times, Rimrock Auto Group has renegotiated their contract for naming rights on Metra Park’s arena. New terms in the three –way contract with Daktronics and Yellowstone County will shift past-due payments, plus interest, to higher quarterly payments over the balance of the ten-year agreement beginning next year.
Rimrock Auto was able to make only three of their four $25,000 payments last year and will only have to pay a total of $50,000, this year, under the new agreement. Cash flow to Metra Park will remain as it has been, however, with Daktronics stepping up to take the short-term hit on the reduced payments.
Next year, Rimrock Auto will begin making quarterly payments of $28,500, which by the end of the contract will meet the total $1 million to which the company originally committed plus $37,000 in interest.
Some of the benefits of the contract will not be available to Rimrock Auto this year, including exclusivity, which will allow MetraPark to solicit sponsorships and shows from other auto dealerships.
Rimrock Auto wants to make the deal work, said Greg Schmidt, regional sales manager for Daktronics. They have never suggested any reduction in the total cost of the contract, he said.
County Sets Levy, Tightens Belt, Plans Capital Expenditures
Yellowstone County Commissioners held a press conference to announce that they are foregoing the option of levying all the mills they legally could levy for the operation of county government. The commissioners held their final budget hearing, adopting it and setting the mills for the 2009-10.
The county is levying 152.41 mills to fund county government, rather than their maximum authority of 155.91 mills. The 2.5 mills left on the table amounts to a value of about $687,000, or about $10.50 tax savings on a $200,000 home.
In speaking to county taxpayers, County Commissioner Jim Reno said, “While Yellowstone County has many worthwhile projects and places to use those funds we feel the best place for these monies is in your wallet.”
Whether an individual’s total tax bill goes up or down depends upon a lot of the factors, not least of which is how they were impacted by new state reappraisals. Each taxpayer in the county is also impacted by the ups and downs of various districts which serve them, most of which have had increased budgets and increased mill levies this year.
A plan to revitalize “Old Town” Billings along Minnesota Avenue is at the Planning Office located in the Parmly Billings Library.
The plan has been approved by city and county officials.
Lora Mattox, Transportation Planner for the Planning Department, said that property owners within the proposed area plan to form a Special Improvement District have been informed. The property owners will be responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalks, curbs and gutters adjacent to their properties. Grants from a variety of sources may be applied for to offset costs.
The plan, developed by Fisher and Assoc. and High Plains Architects, envisions an area approximately from South 30th Street to South 25th Street, between the railroad tracks and 1st Ave. South, enhanced with bulbouts, crosswalks, landscaping, raised planters, decorative lighting, burial of utility lines, and a raised, 25th Street pedestrian / bike bridge across the railroad tracks.
General improvements to the area to be borne by property owners are projected to cost about $400,000. Improvements to be borne by the city are estimated at about $484,000, not including the bridge, which is estimated to cost $790,000.
Part of the plan is already underway with the implementation of a “Quiet Zone” through the area for trains. The district is in the process of nominating the area to the National Register Historic District.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103