By Michael Howell
After years of wrangling and a lengthy effort at developing an alternative site, the Town of Stevensville finally acquired the well field property that was promised to them as part of the Twin Creek’s subdivision conditions of approval. Original subdivision developer John Anderson agreed to provide a well and up to six acres for further well field development to the town as part of the conditions of approval of the project. Missoula Federal Credit Union (MFCU) took possession of the development when Anderson defaulted on a loan related to the project. An agreement between the town and the credit union was worked out and the town took possession of the well and about seven acres of land last week.
Stevensville Mayor Gene Mim Mack negotiated a deal with the Credit Union that resolved a longstanding issue related to the upsizing of the water line from 8 inches to 16 inches to accommodate the Town’s future development of the well field. Mim Mack said the Town owed $135,000 to the developer to cover the extra cost of the upsizing. The original deal also committed the developer to construct a well house and maintenance shed. Mim Mack said the estimated cost of building the appropriate facility at the well field was pretty much equal to the cost of the oversized pipe. As a result it was agreed that MFCU would forgive the debt on the oversized pipe in exchange for the Town agreeing to assume the responsibility for constructing and paying for any capital improvements to the well field property. Mim Mack said it was a good deal for the town because the cost of the building could be financed over time and may qualify for some grant support.
TOWN SIGNS ON TO MULTIJURISDICTIONAL ALCOHOL ENFORCEMENT TEAM AGREEMENT
The Council approved signing on to a multijurisdictional agreement between other municipalities, the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office, the Montana Highway Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service and Fish, Wildlife and Parks to provide mutual assistance in investigating and prosecuting criminal activities involving alcohol.
The agreement calls for the assignment, on a temporary basis, of officers to participate in the Ravalli County Multijurisdictional Alcohol Enforcement Team anywhere in the county and the cost of providing aid at task force enforcements will be borne separately by each agency involved. Any participating chief of police may terminate the agreement simply by notifying the other parties.
Councilor Desera Towle raised the concern that the town might be left in the lurch when officers went to do DUI work out on the Highway.
Chief Marble said that the agreement did not require attendance at any particular enforcement action and that the town would never be left without adequate police service when they did participate.
The Council approved signing the mutual aid agreement 3 to 1 with Towle casting the dissenting vote.
COUNCIL APPROVES CONTRACT WITH STEVI MAIN STREET ASSOCIATION
The Council unanimously approved a $3,500 contract with the Stevensville Main Street Association to provide a nine point plan of services that include assisting in recruitment of and providing consultation and assistance services to new businesses, providing grant administration and oversight for the CTEP Streetscape Improvement Project, facilitating appreciation of Stevensville history and culture, providing a resource library for information and materials relating to historic preservation in the downtown, promoting downtown business and developing a parking plan, acting as a contact point and information center for the town relating to business, and assisting the Stevensville Planning and Zoning Committee. The agreement also requires the Main Street Association to provide up to 10 hours of consultation on the Town’s website and to provide quarterly reports related to each item in the agreement.
BIDS ON AIRPORT PROJECT REJECTED
The Council rejected all three bids that were submitted for the proposed taxilane improvement project at the Stevensville Airport. The extended taxilane would allow the construction of new hangars. The engineer’s estimate of the cost of the project was $212,000; the bids were 20% to 50% over that estimate. Airport Manager Don Misevic said that it might be due to timing of the bid as it was put out late in the season when the companies had lined up other work. He said the Airport Board recommendation was to deny all three bids and perhaps try again earlier in the year in some future season.
The council agreed unanimously to reject all bids.
TOWN EMPLOYEES GOT 100% HEALTH COVERAGE FOR A SPELL
Town Treasurer Stephanie Mapelli reported that she had recently discovered some irregularities and inconsistencies in the books concerning health insurance benefit payments on behalf of some employees.
In a memorandum Mapelli sketched the background of the mistake, stating that the Council had set the Town’s health insurance contribution on behalf of employees at $410 through the end of the FY10-11. The town’s premium during this period was within budget at $390.86.
Then, in FY 11-12, the council set the employer’s contribution at $450. The Town’s premium during this period was $455.45 exceeding the budget by $5.45 per employee per month.
Mapelli stated that what should have happened was that, following budget adoption, each employee record should have been updated to show a monthly payroll deduction of $5.45. No changes were made and as a result the town was paying 100% of the health insurance premium of each employee. The unbudgeted bottom line impact from July 1, 2010 through March 31, 2012 is estimated at $2,683.96.
Mapelli computed the total costs of the mistake in employee benefit costs from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 at $1,501.36. The total in employee health insurance benefits that exceeded the Council funded amount of $45 per employee per month came to $381.50. The cost of employee dental, vision, and life insurance benefits totaled $2,452.91.
Mapelli said the grand total came to $4,335.77. She said the error had been identified and corrected and recommended that the best way to proceed would be to simply swallow the loss and move forward from this point.
The council agreed and voted unanimously to accept the recommendation.
Council coughs up cash for Fireman’s Relief Fund
Another discrepancy discovered by the Town’s new Treasurer is that payments required by law to be paid into the Fireman’s Relief Fund were not being made. She said that the town should have been paying roughly $1,725 into the fund every month but had not been doing so. She said that through June 30 she estimated the fund to be owed approximately $23,000. She noted that state law required the Town to keep the Fireman’s Relief Fund solvent.
Mayor Mim Mack said it was a case of an ongoing obligation that had not been funded.
Councilor Ron Klaphake moved to hold a public meeting and change the budget to pay the deficit and make adequate monthly payments in the future. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN OTHER BUSINESS THE COUNCIL:
• adopted a Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan update as part of the requirements for qualifying for federal disaster relief funds;
• approved giving out about 190 one day free passes to the town swimming pool to all 4th, 5th and 6th grade students at a total cost of $570;
• approved a permit to Bitterroot Family Fellowship for the use of Lewis and Clark Park for five days of Vacation Bible School;
• approved contracting with Municode, a municipal code corporation out of Florida, to do state mandated codification of the Town’s ordinances for about $9,000;
• approved public utility waterline easement agreements with Dean and Ramona Vance and Sean and Jody Torrey.