REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Tuesday May 30, 2023
ALL PRESENT: Commissioner Ostlund, Chair; Commissioners Morse and Jones; Board Clerk Teri Reitz; Clerk and Recorder Jeff Martin.
PLEDGE: MOMENT OF SILENCE, Held.
PUBLIC COMMENTS ON REGULAR, CONSENT AND FILED AGENDA ITEMS – Hearing no comments Commissioner Ostlund continued the Board Meeting.
Commissioner Jones made a MOTION to move item 2B from the Consent Agenda to item #1 on the Regular Agenda, Commissioner Morse seconded. Passed Unanimous.
ITEM 2B FROM THE CONSENT AGENDA – Letter to City of Billings Regarding Jail Assessment. Commissioner Jones stated that this letter was put together to go to the city, and the overall point of it is well taken however there are some things that I don’t agree with. Commissioner Jones stated that he will be voting against the letter. Commissioner Jones stated that the bottom line is that we need to figure out what is going on with the court system and all the other different factors that go into it. We need to figure out what is going on with our jail and work with the city. The city is putting together a proposal and we might be able to add on to what they are looking at as far as the overall system. I think the intent and a lot of this is correct but there are a couple issues that I have with it, but they are minor, and I don’t feel comfortable with it. It is a big issue, and we need to move forward. Commissioner Jones stated he would like to put this on for discussion on Thursday to discuss if we could team up with the city. Commissioner Ostlund stated that he views these as two separate issues. Jennifer Owen from the city was here and asked if we wanted to partner with them to go out for a proposal regarding jail assessment and I think that is a good possibility, however we haven’t read the proposal and even Jennifer stated there are likely some things that the county would like to add. This letter comes to us from the County Attorney the Sheriff and the Captain of the Detention Facility, who I would say no one knows more about the court system, the jail, and the inmate population than those three. I am going to support the letter. Commissioner Morse stated he is going to support the letter too. Commissioner Morse stated that he applauds the city at looking at working more collaboratively with us. If the city wants to do that, I would have liked to have been involved with the RFP from the beginning. I think we can still do that but as a board we need to sit down at a discussion and figure out exactly what the problems are at the jail, we know we have overcrowding and we know we can’t find detention officers, we need to look at the finer points and that is why I will support this letter. Commissioner Jones stated part of his concern is that we owe 7 million dollars for the expansion of the detention facility, and we also talk about that there are to many inmates in the facility from the state we are holding. Those are things we can take action on right now. If you look at Gallatin County, they didn’t take any state prisoners, they said as soon as they are adjudicated get them out of here, that is an option that we have. I don’t know that it is responsible, but we are saying that is one of the issues here. We don’t have to take federal prisoners, the Sheriff could say we are not taking them. Commissioner Ostlund stated Commissioner Jones I don’t believe you were here when we expanded the jail. First the voters turned down the mill levy increase then Kevan Bryan our Finance Director put together a proposal and we went to the voters to increase our borrowing limit. The revenue stream to pay for the increase to our borrowing limit to expand the jail is paid for by the Federal prisoners, which you would like to get rid of. How would you propose to pay the 7 million dollars back? Commissioner Jones stated I totally understand that but, in the letter, you say that the Federal prisoners are part of the problem. If that is part of the problem, then that is part of the solution of how we are paying off our debt. I don’t know how it fits in the letter. Commissioner Ostlund stated it fits in great. Commissioner Ostlund stated that the letter is a factual representation of what goes on in the jail. Yes, we have Federal prisoners and yes, we are going to continue to hold them and yes, they pay the bill for the debt that we incurred, which is 7 million dollars. It is a factual representation of what the city asked for. Commissioners Jones stated that the letter states: there are currently several inefficiencies that are contributing to the issues with overcrowding; and you are pinpointing those as inefficiencies with the overcrowding. No doubt if they get those prisoners out of there faster it will be a lot better. You are talking about the ones that state pays for and getting those prisoners out of there faster, we can do that right now. I don’t think that this letter is factually correct. You had brought this up earlier Commissioner Ostlund that we should do a study. I think people are getting tired of the crime rate that is happening in the city and not being able to lock people up. I think that public safety is one of the core functions of government. I think that is something that the public may be willing to pay for, we need to be considering an expansion in the near future. We are talking three years out before we can build anymore cells, by the time you go through the planning and everything else. There is a lot of things in the letter that are good, but there are some things that are not good. I will be voting against the letter. Passed 2 – 1. Commissioner Jones voted against.
CLAIMS – Batches 23-181, 23-182, 23-183 and 23-184. Commissioner Jones made a MOTION to approve the Claims, Commissioner Morse seconded. Passed Unanimous.
CONSENT AGENDA – 1. CLERK AND RECORDER – A.) McNeil Subdivision and the S.I.A. B.) Sedgwick Subdivision and the S.I.A. 2. COMMISSIONERS – A.) Board Reappointments – Billie Ruff to County Compensation Board. B.) Letter to City of Billings Regarding Jail Assessment – Moved to the Regular Agenda. 3. FINANCE – A.) Metra ARPA Infrastructure Materials Testing Added Scope with Terracon. B.) Amended Resolution 23-66 to Create RSID 890 and 890M. 4. PUBLIC WORKS – A.) Big Sky State Games Facility Use Permit – Dates of the Big Sky State Games are July 19th, 20th, 21st. B.) Contract with Jim Rooney for Brookwood Pond Maintenance and Repairs. C.) Vehicle Title for Auction – 1GCHK33JXYF473044 – 2000 Chevy Truck. D.) Paving Agreement with Brian Elkin for Paving a Section of 72nd Street West. 5. HUMAN RESOURCES – PERSONNEL ACTION REPORTS – County Attorney – 1 Appointment; GIS – 1 Salary & Other; Detention Facility – 1 Appointment, 3 Salary & Other, 1 Termination; Clerk of Court – 1 Termination; IT – 1 Salary & Other; Justice Court – 1 Termination; Sheriff’s Office – 3 Salary & Other.
FILE ITEMS – 1. AUDITOR- Payroll Audit – May 1 to May 15, 2023. 2. COMMISSIONERS – A.) Jessica Flint – MetraPark Advisory Board Resignation Letter. B.) MCEP Grant Award Letter. C.) ExxonMobil – Assignment of Communication Site Lease Agreement & Right of Way Easement. D.) Board Minutes – DUI Task Force May 2023. 3. HUMAN RESOURCES – May 1 – May 15 Payroll Audit. 4. PUBLIC WORKS – Contract with Int Site Engineering for RSID 890M associated with the design for paving of South 54th. Commissioner Morse made a to approve the Consent Agenda and place the File Items to file, Commissioner Jones seconded. Passed Unanimous
PUBLIC COMMENTS ON COUNTY BUSINESS – Hearing no comments Commissioner Ostlund adjourned the meeting at 9:39 a.m.