By Michael Howell
Step by step, the Stevensville Town Council is moving forward in a multi-pronged effort to annex the Stevensville Airport property. At its regular meeting on November 21, the Council passed a Resolution of Intent to Annex and passed on first reading an ordinance zoning the airport property, on the conditioned it is annexed, as L1 – Light Industrial. A public hearing was set for December 20, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall to actually vote on the annexation. A second reading of the ordinance to zone the airport land Light Industrial was also scheduled on the same evening at the same place.
The Council acted on other pending airport business by approving an application for a grant from Montana Aeronautics for $9,307 for a Taxi-lane Extension Project. The Council also moved to approve engaging the services of Morrison-Maierle, Inc. to conduct an Environmental Assessment for the project.
A meeting with airport users and hangar lease holders was scheduled for Tuesday, November 27 at the airport to explain in detail what annexation of the airport would mean in terms of their tax payments. Councilor Ron Klaphake said that it has been generally estimated that leaseholders will “take a 12% hit” in their tax payments. He said the reasons for the annexation would be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting along with an examination of what the financial impacts will be.
Council looks to purchase a Police vehicle
The Council set a date for a budget hearing to amend the capital improvement budget line to add $35,000 for the purchase of a police vehicle. That hearing was scheduled to take place on December 6, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
The Stevensville Police Department currently owns three vehicles but one is pretty much out of commission due to front end problems and the other is a black hole of maintenance expenses.
Police Chief James Marble told the council that the cost of repairing the 2005 model Crown Victoria with front end problems surpassed the vehicle’s value. He said the department’s 2003 Taurus was not designed for police use and lacked the electrical power needed to run the needed equipment. He said they had spent over $3,000 in the last eighteen months on repairs. Currently the department’s 2009 Dodge Charger is the only working vehicle.
Marble had examined some replacement options and suggested the overall cost of a single vehicle would be around $35,000. He said that he would present complete and detailed options to the Council when the money became available.
Town pays for retirement account mistake
The Town of Stevensville will pay out over $4,600 to cover payments to the Public Employees Retirement System fund that should have been made related to the employment of Building Inspector Dennis Monroe. The town will pay both the town’s contribution and the employee’s portion of the contribution for the period under question.
Town Treasurer Stephanie Mapelli explained how the mistake occurred. She said the law requires that an employee who works 960 hours per year or more must be placed on the PERS role and the town must pay about half of the bill. It was determined that the Building Inspector did not work enough hours to meet the requirement. However, it was subsequently discovered that if an employee is working elsewhere and covered by PERS on that job and also works for a second entity that is covered by PERS, then the second entity must also place that employee on the PERS roles. Since Monroe works full time for the City of Missoula and is covered under PERS, then he must also participate in the Town of Stevensville’s PERS.
“We are learning a few things,” said Mapelli.
In other business the Town Council:
• approved a permit for the Main Street Association for the annual Christmas Gift Fair and Parade of Lights and street closures associated with First Friday, December 7;
• approved a contract for services with HDR Engineering;
• received an update on the town’s well-field development. Aside from the functioning well installed by the developer of Twin Creeks subdivision, the town has drilled three additional 6-inch test wells. One of those was recently upgraded to 12 inches and is pumping 1,050 gallons per minute. If this well proves out and does not substantially affect the existing well, only two wells may be required to meet the town’s projected water supply needs. These first two wells are 420 to 450 feet deep;
• heard from Selway Sewer Project Manager Mike Whelehon of PCI about plans for the sewer project underway to serve Selway Corporation and other businesses in the newly formed Tax Increment Financing District on the north side of town;
• got an estimate of $796.03 for placing two motion sensitive security lights in Lewis and Clark Park.