Written by Herald-News
A Toyota sedan and an SUV collided in the intersection of Granville Street and Second Avenue South Thursday, Aug. 23, at 1:37 p.m. Wolf Point police responded. The driver of the Toyota was transported by ambulance to Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus with non-life threatening injuries. Neither driver was identified. (Photo by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners passed a vicious dog ordinance on the required second of two readings Tuesday, July 28, passing the measure into law.
Under the new ordinance, an owner of a dog that bites or attempts to bite will face a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum fine of $250 and possible destruction of the dog or the mandatory implantation of an identifying microchip. It becomes mandatory that biting dogs be euthanized after second offenses. The fines for an owner on second offense goes to $500.
The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s office or any other local law enforcement agency will be authorized to impound and quarantine any dog that bites.
The Roosevelt County Attorney requested the ordinance after several people asked for stricter laws addressing vicious dogs.
In other business, the commissioners authorized the purchase of a 2011 Chevrolet ½-ton pickup from High Plains Motors for $19,000 and the purchase of new spraying equipment giving the mosquito board a second pickup and spraying unit.
The commissioners voted to accept responsibility for electrical problems at the Roosevelt County Library in Culbertson. The city bonded $400,000 to build the library and electrical issues surfaced after it opened. The likely cost to the county to correct deficiencies is about $2,500.
In other business, the commissioners accepted a $9,700 bid from Alan Engelke to relocate fire hydrants at the fairgrounds in Culbertson.
The commissioners also authorized the purchase of chairs for the health department for $569 from Will’s Office World. Will’s matched a lower bid by Costco.
Written by John Plestina
Nearly two months after a contract was offered to a Bismarck, N.D., architectural firm to design the new county jail, the Roose-velt County Commissioners voted Tuesday, July 28, to extend a new offer to a Miles City architect.
Stevenson Design will be offered the contract after the commissioners became disillusioned with Klien McCarthy.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said telephone calls to a Bismarck, N.D., phone number for Klien McCarthy were answered by someone in Minneapolis, Minn.
On May 29, the commissioners reluctantly awarded a contract to Klien McCarthy because the county was required to use a selection process based on points for each of four architectural firms that were finalists.
The commissioners complied with a requirement to apply for an interest-free loan from the United States Department of Agriculture that could offset the cost of construction of the jail. The maximum amount the loan could be is $5 million. If the county receives the loan at no interest, it would offset the amount owed for bond repayment. Klien McCarthy came out on top in the point selection process.
“I didn’t feel that the selection process ― the scoring process ― returned the results we wanted,” commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said May 29.
“We did what we did so we will be eligible for a grant,” he said.
“In order to comply with the feds, we don’t have a choice,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said at the same meeting.
Written by John Plestina
Wolf Point residents are facing a possible tax hike this year with municipal officials considering doubling both the street and street maintenance assessments to fund needed street construction projects.
The budget process is winding down with the city council expected to adopt the full budget Monday, Aug. 19.
City residents are afforded an opportunity to comment on a proposal to double the street maintenance assessment during a public hearing Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.
The proposal is to raise the assessment from $39.60 to $79.20 to fund major street maintenance projects municipal officials say are necessary because grant funding is not available.
“We need to fix our streets, which are going to be terrible,” mayor Chris Dschaak said during a recent city council meeting.
“I don’t foresee any increases in water, sewer or garbage,” Wolf Point’s clerk/treasurer Marlene Mahlum said.
How much taxes could increase remains a question.
“I don’t know where the mill levy is going. I don’t get the taxable values from the [state] Department of Revenue, which are based on levies, until the second Monday in August,” Mahlum said Thursday, July 23.
“The big question for me is the new tax evaluation the state has come out with,” she said.
The evaluation, conducted statewide during fall 2014, resulted in Roosevelt County real estate taxes increasing substantially, but more so in Culbertson and Bainville, which are Bakken Oilfield-impacted. In Wolf Point, taxes doubled for some homeowners, increased only slightly for others and remained static for some.
Wolf Point’s total market value in 2014 was 41.3 mills. The net and gross taxable value was just over $1.2 million with a mill value of 1.222.
“I’m not sure how it’s all going to play out,” Mahlum said.
She said there is a possibility of a mill increase.
Mahlum said Interstate Engineering of Nashua has prioritized proposed street projects and estimated costs.
“At least we would have some dollars for a contractor to come in and bid,” she said.
“We have to do something. There is no grant money available right now,” Mahlum said.
Written by John Plestina
A snafu by federal appraisers has delayed land buy-back program payments for an estimated 5,000 Fort Peck Tribes members.
At issue is the failure to properly appraise mineral leases on 880 parcels resulting in the suspension of payments. Only land owners with mineral rights are affected.
Land buy-back department director Debra Colgan said letters will soon be mailed to tribal members impacted by the federal mistake. They need to sign the letter and send it back. They will receive another offer with those tracts appraised. Colgan said she does not know when the next offers will be made.
“They weren’t supposed to offer to purchase mineral tracks with leases because if it had a mineral lease it had potential [for considerably higher value] underneath it,” Colgan said.
The program was only offering $7.50 per acre for mineral tracts that did not have leases.
“So the buy-back program typically does not make offers on tracts because it is possible that tracts with leases have more than a nominal mineral value. There should have never been an offer made on a mineral tract with an active lease on it. We found out by looking at some of the offers that the opposite happened,” Colgan said.
She said mineral appraisals, including leases, will be conducted during the next few months.
Colgan said she does not know how long the process will take because it involves the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations in Washington, D.C.
The buy-back program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing individual landowners at fair market value. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.