Community gets $30K toward dike, flood study


Miles City and Custer County will receive $30,000 ($15,000 each) for the feasibility study for the dike/flood control from the Community Development Block Grant program, City Grants Administrator Dawn Colton told the Miles City Council Tuesday night at City Hall.

“Just to bring everybody up to speed, I think we put in for a $60,000 grant and we got half of that, so we’ll be looking for an additional $30,000 come budget time,” Mayor Butch Grenz said.

The study will cost $187,000, determined by an earlier bid.

The community also received a $5,000 grant from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Officials are awaiting word on a Federal Emergency Management Agency application, in addition to looking for more funding.

Also at the council meeting, a resolution to de-annex Super 8 Motel from the city limits died for lack of a second to the motion.

Grenz said the motel gets city water and sewer.

Raja Patel, president of Lakshmi, Inc. and owner of the motel, submitted a petition to be excluded from the city limits.

The motel was annexed August 2012 upon Patel’s request.

Grenz worried de-annexation would set a precedent.

“I guess the real question is, he wanted in, he got in, now he wants out. Is everyone going to be that way, then? The people that are already in, are they going to want out?” he asked.

Council member Susanne Galbraith agreed that it could set “a dangerous precedent.”

“I have to pay taxes. No one’s going to let me out,” Council member Jerry Partridge said.

But newly seated council member Sheena Martin asked if not approving the annexation would be a deterrent to the business.

The motels in the city limits are part of the tourism district that charges a $1 fee for each room, each night. That money is used to encourage tourism to Miles City.

Utilities Director Allen Kelm explained that the Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce sends out information to teams coming to town and lists the motels in the district. 

Some council members said they heard that Patel asked to be annexed to help the tourism district raise money. Others heard it was to get the Super 8 on the list, thereby getting more business.

Grenz said Patel didn’t realize the increase in taxes the annexation would cause.

“Every other hotel, motel that’s inside the city limits is dealing with the same thing, and they are prospering,” Kelm said.

City Attorney Dan Rice asked that the minutes reflect that the council didn’t feel it was in the best interest of the city to de-annex.

The mayor assigned the council members to city committees as follows:

— Finance: Susanne Galbraith, Sheena Martin, John Hollowell and Dwayne Andrews;

— Public Service: Galbraith, Partridge, Hollowell and Andrews;

— Public Safety: Galbraith, Partridge, Mark Ahner and Roxanna Brush;

— Human Resource: Ken Gardner, Martin, Ahner and Brush;

— Flood Control: Gardner, Martin, Hollowell and Andrews.

In other news:

— The mayor made the following appointments (and the council approved them): Dale Barta to the planning board, Leif Ronning to the zoning board, Mark Browning and Doug Melton to historical preservation (reappointments), and Calvin Carey and Phillip Emmons to the airport commission, with Doug Phair as an alternate.

— Grenz said he received a message with concerns about plowing of Boutelle Street. He said the city takes care of the streets up to the city limits. Holy Rosary Healthcare has a private contractor that does Boutelle Street, he said.

“I gotta say that the city crews have really been knocking it out of the park for as much stuff as we’ve had to move,” he said. “When you look at the mountains of snow packed up along the railroad track and everywhere else, that’s a lot snow. And it isn’t easy, I’m sure.” 

— In light of recent derailments of trains carrying oil, Partridge said it is very important to keep the trains going through Miles City under 15 mph.

“The oil is extremely dangerous. If a derailment should happen, it’s my guess all of Miles City would have to be evacuated. That’s similar to what’s happened in North Dakota, and I’m hopeful we stay on top of these guys,” he said.

— City Clerk Lorrie Pearce announced the budget training session that will take place at 9 a.m. on Jan. 29 at City Hall. 

— Ordinance No. 1261 was unanimously approved. It would change the zoning of the lot where Bobcat of Miles City is located, from heavy commercial to general commercial. 

The city’s contracted planner Dave DeGrandpre said that since there is housing nearby, the heavy commercial could be “high impact” to nearby homes with possible noise, fumes and heavier traffic.

He added that general commercial can be anything from multi-family housing to consumer-type commercial. 

— A resolution (Resolution No. 3656) for the Miles City Board of Health to enter into an agreement with the state for inspections of licensed establishments was passed unanimously.

—Every 10 years voters get a chance to establish a local government review. A resolution to put the review on the ballot was tabled because it required a dollar amount which has not yet been determined. 

It is being sent to the Finance Committee to find an amount. 

Pearce said the training of the study commission members would be $3,000. Other costs have to be determined.

The study can look at forming a charter form of city government, consolidation of city and county, having a city manager, and more.

Grenz said the charter government can make the government fit like a glove, depending on the city’s individual needs. 

He said mayors from those cities that have a charter say it is so much better.

— An amended Horizon Parkway Subdivision plat (Bobcat property) was unanimously approved.