County Worries About Tax Protests Impact on Budget Planning

Being recently informed that there will likely be no settlement regarding the CHS tax protest for almost two years, Budget County Finance Director Kevan Bryan, asked Yellowstone County Commissioners to appeal to the state to expedite the tax protest process as it pertains to large taxpayers, so local governments can plan and budget better.

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Senior Citizens Mill Levy Increase to be on Ballot

Dozens of citizens from throughout Yellowstone County related experiences demonstrating the benefits of the levy that funds services for the elderly, and asked that county commissioners and the community support a request to increase that levy, during a public hearing on Tuesday.
“It’s an opportunity to provide a lot of opportunity for a small investment,” said one woman from Laurel, who was one among dozens of citizens who packed the commissioners’ board room to standing -room –only capacity. Most of them were there to testify, as volunteers, who help provide services to their peers. Because of the volunteers, said the woman, “there is so much benefit coming back from the money invested. If not for the volunteers it would cost a great deal more … They help people continue to live at home.”

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Yellowstone County will Consider Levy Increase for Seniors

A proposed mill levy increase to expand senior services in Yellowstone County is being considered by County Commissioners to be placed on the primary ballot this spring.
Amid discord about not having any advance notice that the Adult Resource Alliance was bringing the request forward, county commissioners approved a Resolution of Intent for two public hearings — Friday, Feb. 5 and Tuesday, Feb. 23, 9:30 am, in the commissioners’ board room at the County Courthouse.

Read more: Yellowstone County will Consider Levy Increase for Seniors

Sheriff's Department to Temporarily Relocate

In order to allow a new HVAC system to be installed, the Sheriff’s Department is moving out of its “round” building at 2550 3rd Avenue North, into the former downtown location of PayneWest Insurance, Inc. at 2323 2nd Avenue North.
Commissioners signed a lease on Tuesday to rent the facility for $10,000 ($6 per square foot) a month for up to six months, with an option to buy the building. The lease begins March 1 and includes the use of 19,300 square feet of office space and 60 parking spaces. And, according to Deputy County Attorney Dan Schwarz the county is being given two weeks of free access to begin installation of equipment.

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Stats Show More Judges Needed In Yellowstone County

The caseload for Yellowstone County 13th District Court jumped dramatically in 2015, according to stats released by the Montana Supreme Court.
The numbers increase the judicial need in Yellowstone County from 5.01 to 6.18. The data will be reviewed at a District Court Council meeting in Helena on February 19, which will draw upon it in making recommendations to the next state legislature regarding how many new judges are needed in the state. District Court Judge Greg Todd, who serves on the Council, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the recommendation be as high as three judges for Yellowstone County. It will at least be two.

Read more: Stats Show More Judges Needed In Yellowstone County

Public Hearing Scheduled on Jail Borrowing Authority

Following department head discussions on Thursday, Yellowstone County Commissioners, on Tuesday, approved placing a Resolution of Intent on the agenda next week calling for a public hearing to place a request on the June 7 primary ballot to increase the County’s borrowing authority in order to build an addition to the jail.
The authority will allow county commissioners to increase their borrowing limit to $9.7 million. Without voter approval state law restricts counties from borrowing more than $2 million for any one purpose. Increasing the borrowing limit does not involve a property tax increase. The debt will be paid off with the revenue collected under existing tax rates.

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County Weighs Options to Expanding Jail

Despite efforts to reduce the jail population, the problem of over-crowding at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility, just isn’t going away. Efforts to mitigate the problem, while having some effect, are not keeping pace with the escalation in bookings.
On January 18, the numbers hit a new high of 514, according to Sheriff Mike Linder, in discussing the problem with County Commissioners during budget hearings on January 28.
“We have thinned out every one we possibly can. We are just running out of room,” said Linder.

Read more: County Weighs Options to Expanding Jail

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