Yellowstone County Commissioners and Riverstone Health have reached agreement regarding a contract that will henceforth govern the provision of health services that Riverstone will provide to the inmates of the Yellowstone County Detention Services. The agreement took longer than anticipated, and still has details that will have to be ironed out as the two entities plunge into unchartered waters.
The plan is a "prototype," explained Deputy County Attorney Kevin Gillen to County Commissioners in submitting the final draft. He said that the 18 month contract can be modified as needed, as they progress into the new arrangement that will provide inmates with immediate medical care and dental services. The contract will become effective in January 2012 and run through June 2013.
The Big Sky Economic Development Authority (EDA) has been challenged by Yellowstone County Commissioner Jim Reno to look at how MetraPark approaches bidding for high school sports tournaments and come up with ideas on how to improve a process that usually means a loss of $18,000 to $20,000 each year for MetraPark.
"We agreed to help facilitate the discussion," Director Steve Arveschoug told members of the executive committees of EDA and its sister organization, the Big Sky Economic Development Corporation (EDC) during their meeting. The discussions will include the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, he said, and "bring other folks to the table." [A meeting date has been set for Nov. 3 at the conference room at EDA offices at Granite Tower]
Board member Rick Reed asked if the county commissioners were asking for money.
Arveschoug said no.
A wide range of significant issues confronted members of the boards of the Big Sky Economic Development Authority (EDA) and its sister organization, the Big Sky Economic Development Corporation (EDC), this month. Members weighed issues regarding the permitting of mega loads, strategizing for recruiting businesses, developing business incentives, the use of job training funds, redistricting of legislative districts, adding new board members, and electing new officers.
Some of the issues were taken up at the meeting of the joint executive committees meeting on Wednesday and others at the joint meeting of the full boards on Thursday.
Meeting Mega Load Demands
How to permit mega loads on Montana highways in a fair and equitable manner is an issue that EDA and others have taken up with state officials, reported EDA/EDC Director Steve Arveschoug. Arveschoug said that they facilitated a meeting on behalf of Bay Limited, Billings, with representatives from that company and Governor Brian Schweitzer on November 30, to discuss long term solutions to creating an unobstructed route for the transportation of large loads to Canada and The Bakken oil fields
Concerned about the future of the retirement fund for Montana's public employees, three representatives from Yellowstone County government expressed those concerns to members of the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee at their most recent meeting.
The manner in which the City of Billings and other communities have shifted the cost of employee benefits to an already beleaguered state Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and the way the state is planning for the future of the fund is something that all public employees should be concerned about, say Yellowstone County Commissioner Jim Reno, Director of Finance Scott Turner, and Deputy County Attorney Dan Schwarz – all of whom testified last Friday before legislators who serve on the Finance Committee.
Two concerns regarding the fund prompted the trip to Helena.
The Planning Department for the City of Billings has announced the availability of the draft of the Infill Development Policy, to be adopted as a resolution by the Billings City Council on Dec. 12.
A public meeting to review the draft policy will be held on Nov. 10 at 5:30 pm, Third Floor of the Parmly Library. The Billings City Council will discuss the policy at a work session on Nov. 21.
The purpose of the infill policy is "to encourage efficient utilization of City infrastructure and services; support development and redevelopment of land within the City limits," and hence avoid "urban sprawl."
"Infill development" is defined as the development of underutilized or vacant parcels that are connected to or able to take advantage of existing infrastructure.
Laurel is the place to be, said a City of Laurel task force appointed to court Pacific Steel, as the recycling firm looks for a new location. At a recent meeting, council members and area business owners made their pitch, outlining why Pacific Steel should bring their business - and 15 to 20 potential jobs - to Laurel.
Laurel's campaign follows a rejection in June of a proposed site on Billings' west end by Yellowstone County Commissioners.
"We are really interested in working with you to see if we can facilitate you bringing your business to Laurel," said city council member Doug Poehls.
A $1.9 million refurbishing, of a formerly vacant building, to make way for the new Mercedes-Benz dealership in Billings was granted a tax incentive by Yellowstone County Commissioners for having made an investment that will bring new dollars into the community and employ more people. The investment qualifies for the incentive program that the county offers for any business investing more than $500,000 and doing more than half their business outside Yellowstone County. The incentive reduces the property taxes assessed on the new construction, incrementally increasing the tax to 100 percent over a ten-year period. As pointed out by Commissioner Bill Kennedy, "The goal is to bring new dollars into the community and create new jobs."
While a lot of attention has been focused on the rebuilding of Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, the tornado that destroyed the building also wreaked havoc on other structures and repair to them has also improved the status of the county-owned facility.
The WPA Barn and the Super Barn have both received repair, mostly covered by insurance, and both are now in considerably better condition than they have been in a long time. The old sound system from Rimrock Auto Arena has been installed in the Super Barn, to the rave reviews of all.
Eleven buildings received substantial roof repairs including the racing office building which was discovered to have three layers of old roofing. With its roof replacement and the replacement of its fascia, "it is now a solid building," reported Pat Todd of CTA Architects.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103