Tuesday March 28, 2023


          ALL PRESENT:  Commissioner Ostlund, Chair, Commissioners Morse, and Jones; Board Clerk Teri Reitz; Clerk and Recorder Jeff Martin.


          Commissioner Morse made a MOTION to Table item 4A on the Consent Agenda, Commissioner Jones seconded.  Passed Unanimous. 

          9:30 a.m. RECOGNITION – Patrick McGarvin – Metra Administration – 15 Years of Service; Christopher Morris – County Attorney – 15 Years of Service; Charri Victory – Human Resources – 15 Years of Service; James Cranford – Metra Administration – 10 Years of Service.

          PUBLIC COMMENTS ON COUNTY BUSINESS – Hearing no comments Commissioner Ostlund continued the Board Meeting.

          BIG SKY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY – A.)  Notice of Application of Tax Incentive from Rimrock II LLC, Doing Business as KIA of Billings.  Commissioner Morse made a MOTION to approve the Notice of Application, Commissioner Jones seconded.  Passed Unanimous.  B.)  Resolution 23-44 of Intent to Grant Tax Incentives for Rimrock II LLC Doing Business as KIA of Billings and Setting the Public Hearing for Tuesday April 18, 2023 @ 9:30 a.m. in Room 3108.  Commissioner Morse made a MOTION to approve Resolution 23-44 and Set the Public Hearing, Commissioner Jones seconded.  Passed Unanimous. 

          COMMISSIONERS – Terminate SAC and Associated Agencies Contract under the Mental Health Mill Levy.  Mr. Zack Terakedis, Director of Substance Abuse Connect.  In Mach of 2010 the voters of Yellowstone County voted to approve a public health mill levy.    On April 26, 2022, the Board of County Commissioners voted to accept the proposal submitted by Substance Abuse Connect.   Yellowstone County has been represented on the Substance Abuse Executive Committee since the beginning of concept.  They stand beside Riverstone Health, Billings Clinic, Yellowstone County Sheriff, the City of Billings, the Billings Police Department, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings SD2 to provide the governance interaction to Substance Abuse Connect.  When Kurt Alme, the US Attorney for Montana at the time presented us with a challenge to address mental health and criminal justice challenges in our county in a more collaborative way, everyone responded.  In September 2022 the Western Interstate Commission for higher education did a statewide assessment and report to talk about crisis systems across the state.  In this is very specific ideas, an independent look at what is going on in Yellowstone County and other areas regarding their crisis system.  The report provided supports much of what Substance Abuse Connect and Yellowstone County agreed to as an approach to crisis services and diversion from the criminal justice system that we are currently working on.  Today as the Director I am asking you to honor the contractual agreement, it spells out what we define as successful metrics for crisis diversion in our community.  Substance Abuse Connect wants the opportunity to present to the Board of County Commissioners an evidenced based data driven path forward to our crisis system.  This is a tough crowd to wrangle, I’ve been doing it for about 4 months and there are a lot of relationships that go into this.  The other part is that these folks are doing tough jobs and right now what we see happening in Yellowstone County, I think that at the time that this was developed it was the right approach.  We must do this collaboratively and we must do it across systems, and we must continue to develop the systems that the state is saying this is the right approach.  We collectively have said this is the right approach.  I have offered that by May during the budgeting time that we are able to present the next evolution of how this goes with all the data we have collected to date.  We have shown that a lot of the efforts are being met by our partners at this time.  I hope you consider what is happening because it is working with what we have approved with joint metrics to solve some of these challenges in our community and that you have considered with our partners the consequences of some of the things that could fall off because of the major shift in direction.  I hope you understand all the pieces and parts to that.  I am asking for some more time as the director and a support of this coalition to bring that forward to you at that later date.  Six people spoke in support of the SAC.  One person stated that all the groups need to work together.  One person spoke specifically about their group and how many people they have served.  Commissioner Ostlund reiterated that this not a public hearing, so he doesn’t need to close it.  Commissioner Ostlund read the 2010 mental health resolution into the record.  Commissioner Ostlund stated that he has questions about services and transparency.  Commissioner Ostlund stated that it is obvious of what the mill levy is intended to do and what services it was intended to provide.  This commission put a lot of pressure on the Mental Health Center and the HUB may have been in the wrong location but because of that pressure the HUB was sold and the services to that particular set of people are gone.  I can’t say I am extremely happy about that because we threw those people out in the street without an alternative.  I am concerned about transparency.  I have asked many people in this room when Substance Abuse Connect first started to provide me with the administrative costs.  It has been a struggle getting that information, I can’t honestly say that that has ever been transparent.  I have also asked for a spreadsheet as part or our investigation of where these funds are going.  I want the spreadsheet to tell me who is receiving the money and what it was used for.  This is the Commissioners mill levy that we lobbied the people for, and we are responsible for, and we are responsible for the administration of, and we are responsible for the accountability.  I have asked for that information and I haven’t gotten it, but I do intend to get it.  Commissioner Ostlund asked Commissioner Jones if he had any comments.  Commissioner Jones stated that the HUB was out of control and Mr. Rod Ostermiller, Director of the Mental Health Center will tell that to you as well.  It was not effective and in the wrong location and there was never a push to close it.  There was a push that it was not being operated correctly.  All of this was apparent when Mr. Ostermiller took over the Mental Health Center and realized there were issues at the HUB.  The administrative costs Commissioner Jones stated were brought to us several times.  He noted that he didn’t have them in front of him but believes the administrative costs are minimal.  Commissioner Jones stated that the administrative costs are coming from other sources.  The goal of the public mill levy was clearly spelled out in the resolution that you just read.  The language on the ballot, the main emphasis is to assist law enforcement and maintain public safety, mitigate detention population, mitigate recidivism, and mitigate Medicaid payments.  Substance Abuse Connect was a vision and put together by US Attorney for Montana Kurt Alme.  One of the goals was to bring the providers together to meet the mill levy goals to offer continuum of care for people in crisis.  Based on past commission meetings the focus has been on the Community Crisis Center for a lot of this action.  The Community Crisis Center was originally started by the two hospitals to keep people in crisis out of the emergency rooms and assist officers.  It was designed to handle 16 people in crisis with 16 beds with a maximum stay of 23 hours and 59 minutes.  When the neighbors voiced their concerns, I was on the City Council at the time, their concerns were that this was going to turn into a homeless shelter.  The hospitals said this will not be a homeless shelter.  In my opinion, the center, when you look at it focuses on crisis however it has turned into a homeless shelter.  At one point when I was on the Community Crisis Board, they had to talk to the Community Crisis Center and tell them they could not go over their maximum occupancy.  It will put everyone at risk if you go over your maximum occupancy.  The main purpose of starting Substance Abuse Connect was to get all parties to work together for the betterment of services for the clients.  The Substance Abuse Connect is supposed to help stop one entity lobbying for more funds.  The other goal was to leverage more dollars from the state and feds to provide more services to the clients.  Haphazardly terminating contracts without a plan jeopardizes the leverage that is already in place.  If there is a better plan, I will totally be on board however I have not seen it at this point.  Commissioner Jones stated that is his concern, as you have heard from different entities and people that have been involved that Substance Abuse Connect is headed in the right direction.  We knew this was not something that was going to be homerun over night, this is something that had to be developed and try to find how we could utilize these funds to leverage other funds.   Also, to give the best services that we can and make sure it is for people in crisis and mitigate the jail population and reduce recidivism.  That includes programs so that when clients are released, they can have follow-up programs.  We have taken $320,000 dollars of this money and put it directly into the jail to provide mental health services which had never had before so that when people get out of jail, we can transition them and get them into services to try to keep them from coming back. This money has been split up in multiple ways it doesn’t all go to Substance Abuse Connect.  If you talk to the Sheriff that has been a homerun, it has been great dollars spent for great services.  We still need to have that core when they are getting out and when them come into crisis to try to keep them out of jail.  I agree with Councilmember Owen that we need to look at our jail and the capacity and do a study and move forward with that.  Commissioner Morse made a MOTION to provide the 60-day notice of termination to the Substance Abuse Connect and Associated Agencies Contracts under the Mental Health Mill Levy, Commissioner Ostlund seconded.  Commissioner Ostlund asked Commissioner Morse if he would consider amending the motion to amend the contract that exists provide it going forward by giving the Commissioners the accountability that we want and the oversight on the distribution of funds.  Commissioner Morse stated that his goal was to bring open, honest transparent discussion.  I have only been on the board for short-time, and I came to a lot of the board meetings last year and one of the problems is that the Substance Abuse Connect hasn’t been open, honest, and transparent.  Still to this day they can’t tell us what the money was spent on and what it was earmarked for.  Commissioner Morse asked Commissioner Ostlund how he envisions doing this under his amendment.  We are responsible to the citizens for how we spend our money.  I don’t think this amendment gives us where I think we should go from here.  Commissioner Ostlund stated that he thinks his amendment does and if we renegotiate the contract, it is our contract for us to negotiate.  We can have our attorney’s put in what we want.  If the contract isn’t negotiated to our satisfaction, we will terminate it.  Commissioner Jones seconded Commissioner Ostlund’s motion.  Commissioner Ostlund stated we have a second for discussion.  Commissioner Ostlund stated that he believes if we amend this contract, we can get the accountability and find out where the money goes, force transparency in the contract and we can have oversight on the expenditures.  Quite honestly if we don’t have that I don’t have any interest in the contract.  Commissioner Jones asked Commissioner Ostlund to repeat his amendment so that he understands it.  Commissioner Ostlund stated that his amendment would be to amend the contract and write in that the administration of the Substance Abuse Connect would report to the Board where the expenditures go, what they are spent on, what they are earmarked for in the agencies that they are distributed to and that this Board has oversight before those expenditures are made.  Commissioner Jones stated for clarification purposes we would not go forward with the terminations of the contracts at this time, but it could happen in the future.  Commissioner Ostlund, answered yes, we will negotiate a contract that this Board is satisfied with, or we will terminate it if we can’t come to an agreement.  I don’t see any reason we can’t come to an agreement.  Commissioner Jones noted that his second stands and we need to keep our eyes on this.  Mr. Terakedis stated he is not a mental health provider, and I wasn’t hired to take charge of that.  I am a coordinator and convene people to gather around a mission and direction.  I am very familiar with tax dollars and being responsible with them.  Transparency is not a problem for me to sort out.  There have been ebbs and flows and I will continue to work on the numbers to make sure you get exactly what you need.  I think we need some joint definitions.  When you talk about administration what does that mean for you?  Is it the administration that we are doing or that I am doing?  I am more than willing to sit and work through all these issues.  Commissioner Ostlund asked Commissioner Morse if he is comfortable with the motion.  Commissioner Morse answered he doesn’t know if he is comfortable.  Commissioner Morse stated that he would envision a board, we have mental health professionals in the room, it is not that hard to have an umbrella organization or group that are mental health providers that are already paid for by their board or agencies that we couldn’t do this without the administrative fee attached that Substance Abuse Connect has.  Substance Abuse Connect has administration over 10% what we give them for funding.  I think that is a lot of money when we can put together a volunteer board.  Commissioner Jones stated that he does not believe that there are 10% of our funds going towards Substance Abuse administration.  Mr. Terakedis stated we need a definition of what you think administration is.  Currently what you paid out in administration fees to Substance Abuse Connect is $16,000 since April of last year out of 1.3 million that was received.  In other words, $300,000 that wasn’t allocated, and it was said clearly that the allocation would take place from the Executive Committee and that was invoiced for Substance Abuse Connect because it needed to be done prior to December of 2022.  As I mentioned at the Discussion meeting that was reallocated one time to the Crisis Center for $100,000.  As I mentioned at the Discussion meeting, I required before getting this job that they had money in the bank so that I am not out fundraising against our partners.  I told them they need to figure out where that source is.  This was a source to put into the bank so that I could be hired for the position for the next three years.  We have leveraged those dollars to where the crisis diversion grant coming from the state takes care of backbone administrative costs.  As we move forward I don’t that you are going to see other than helping cover the cost of a fiscal agent because we are not a 501C3, which is always a good discussion, your administrative fees are never going to exceed an amount above that.  Those leftover funds, $135,000 plus a $35,000 credit that will coming now that the crisis diversion grant has come to us can all be redirected right to services.  I’ve always said that from the beginning the intent was never to fund this administrative side because it is not that expensive.  It is really to redirect it back to services because that is Yellowstone County dollars.  We are getting closer on the spreadsheet you are looking for but there is a lot of missing definitions that I am trying to sort out.  The salary for the Substance Abuse Director was covered by the Montana Healthcare Foundation but going forward it will be the Crisis Diversion Grant going forward.  Commissioner Morse stated getting back to open, honest, and transparent you have never provided that before.  Mr. Terakedis stated that at every discussion meeting he stated that is being covered by the Crisis Diversion Grant.  I have provided the banking statements.  Commissioner Ostlund answered yes you have provided the banking statements, that was not my question.  My question was who have you distributed the money to and what was the money used for.  Motion passed Unanimous.  Commissioner Ostlund stated we will rewrite the contract and write some transparency in it.                                                  

          CLAIMS – Batches 23-138, 23-139 and 23-140.  Commissioner Morse made a MOTION to approve the Claims, Commissioner Jones seconded.  Passed Unanimous. 

          CONSENT AGENDA - 1.  CLERK AND RECORDER- Amended Plat of Lots 17-21, View Crest Subdivision.  2.  COMMISSIONERS – A.)  Spay/Neuter Clinic for Yellowstone County Increased PILT Request.  B.)  Board Openings – Updated List.  C.)  Agreement for Professional Duties – Kevin Gillen.  3.  FINANCE – A.)  Implementation of GASB 87 and GASB 96 requires us to obtain software in order for our ACFE to be compliant.  B.)  Bond for Lost Warrant for Lost Check.  C.)  Request for Records Disposal – RM88.  4.  METRAPARK – A.)  Off Duty Deputy Rates – TABLED.  B.)  Metra Trust Disbursement Log – February 2023.  5.  PUBLIC WORKS – A.)  Contract with Great West Engineering for Engineering and Grant Admin for the Replacement of Bridge 03-03 on S 56th St. W.  B.)  Contract Change Order for Public Works Asphalt Overlay Project II 2022-2023.  C.)  Response to Certified Mail MTDEQ Letter Dated February 22, 2023 “Notice of Violation.”  6.  HUMAN RESOURCES – A.)  Metra General Manager Revised Class Specification.  B.)  PERSONNEL ACTION REPORT – County Attorney – 1 Salary & Other, 2 Terminations; Clerk of Court – 1 Salary & Other; Motor Vehicle – 2 Salary & Other; Clerk and Recorder – 1 Salary & Other; Justice Court – 1 Termination, 2 Termination.

          FILE ITEMS1.  AUDITOR – Payroll Audit March 1 to March 15, 2023.  2.  CLERK AND RECORDER – Board Minutes – Yellowstone County Water and Sewer District.  3.  HUMAN RESOURCES – A.)  YCSO Bargaining Unit Intent to Open Negotiations.  B.)  March 1st through 15th Payroll Audit. Commissioner Morse made a MOTION to approve the Consent Agenda and place the File Items to file, Commissioner Jones seconded.  Passed Unanimous. 

          PUBLIC COMMENTS ON COUNTY BUSINESS – Six people spoke regarding Indian Cliffs Subdivision.  Hearing no other comments Commissioner Ostlund adjourned the meeting at 10:39 a.m.

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