Commissioners approve special elections; discuss road improvements

At their regular Tuesday meeting in Virginia City, the Madison County Commissioners reapproved two resolutions with corrections calling for special mail ballot elections in support of the Madison Valley Rural Fire District.

Resolution 5-2013 calls for an election on whether or not the MVRFD should be allowed to increase its permanent maintenance mill levy by six mills. The increase in mills corresponds to the anticipated increased costs of maintaining fire protection, equipment and facilities in the district. The MVRFD estimates that the annual tax increase for a home valued at $100,000 would be $8.84, and for a home valued at $200,000 the estimated tax increase would be $17.67.

Resolution 6-2013 calls for an election on whether or not the MVRFD should incur a bonded indebtedness in a principal amount not to exceed $985,000, payable over a term not to exceed ten years. The purpose is for the construction of a new fire station at Varney and the acquisition of refurbished apparatus for that station, as well a new fire engine / rescue combination unit that would service the entire MVRFD. The general obligation bonds would bear interest at a rate determined by the MVRFD Board of Trustees, and these would be payable semiannually. The estimated annual tax increase for a home in the district valued at $100,000 would be $12.38, while the estimated annual increase for a home valued at $200,000 would be $24.77. The special ballot election will be held on March 26, 2013.

During their meeting the Commissioners also met with Madison District Ranger Ken Harris, USDA Forest Service transportation planner Jim Yarbrough and Beaverhead Deerlodge recreation planner Jocelyn Dodge to discuss proposals for the Federal Lands Access Program. The program will provide $22.5 million statewide annually over the next five years for road improvements and enhancements to qualifying facilities, which include roads, trails and transit systems that provide access to federal lands.

Priority for the road improvement projects will be given based on a point system, but Commissioners were unprepared to submit a complete proposal because of the upcoming February 8 deadline. As a result they identified a top priority road in each of the county’s three road districts: Mill Creek east of Sheridan in District One, South Boulder in District Two and the road between MT 287 and McAtee Bridge in District Three. The road to Cliff and Wade Lakes was identified as the second priority in District Three, and the planners in attendance agreed to work with the Commissioners to submit proposals before the deadline.

The Commissioners also met with the new county sanitarian Wayne “Wano” Urbonas and solid waste foreman Denny Lueck to discuss the solid waste program. Urbonas had worked previously as an environmental health specialist for the Gallatin City-County Public Health Department and is a certified landfill operator, and he said his focus would be on meeting the needs of Madison County citizens to make sure that they have the availability of solid waste disposal and recycling.

“In my mind, its public safety first and worker safety as well, hand in hand,” he said.

The Board also met with Madison County Sheriff Dave Schenk to sign a memorandum of agreement between the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Ennis for law enforcement and public safety services. The MOA states that Ennis will pay to the county treasurer for the period from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015 the sum equal to 17 mills upon the taxable valuation of the property assessed within the town in installments of one twelfth each, starting July 1, 2012 and continuing the first of the month thereafter until the full amount is paid to Madison County.

“If you really factored it out, it’s the best deal that the town could have,” said Schenk, emphasizing the importance of the service to the Ennis community. “They have law enforcement 24/7. They don’t have to worry about their one officer being gone and nobody covering.”

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