By Michael Howell
At a meeting last week the Ravalli County Commissioners placed the potential creation of a local government study commission on the ballot for public consideration in the June primary election. The five-member study commission would be funded up to $36,500 and the Commissioners made it clear that their intention is to pass a mill levy to raise the funds should the voters approve establishing the commission.
Commission Chairman Greg Chilcott noted that the last time a government study commission was established the act of establishing the commission and the enactment of a mill levy to fund it were placed on the ballot as separate issues. The establishment of the study commission was approved, but the mill levy was denied.
“That put us in a tough position,” said Chilcott. He said he wanted to avoid the dilemma of having a study commission but not having the funds to pay for it. He said the county had increased its reserve funds but was also facing some unexpected expenses that would probably require dipping into those funds.
It was decided to place a single issue on the ballot to create the study commission but make it clear in the resolution creating it that, if approved, the Board of Commissioners intention is to fund it through a special mill levy.
One recommended change to local government that was placed on the ballot by the last government study commission and approved by the voters was to increase the number of commissioners from three to five. That issue will probably come up for renewed discussion if a government study commission is established this year.