Glacier County Commission Chair-woman Mary Jo Bremner offered an explanation on why several questions related to the Glacier County audit, budget, premium pay to employees and elected officials, AgroLink job creation grant, Glacier County attorney’s wages, etc., haven’t been answered to date. Bremner’s explanation came during the Oct. 14 meeting of the Commissioners.
“I’m thinking long and hard on them and Chancy’s (CFO Chancy Kittson) looking at them. We have a pending court case and I’m sorry for my–I guess I’m not sorry–for my reservation about this and my mistrust with those questions because if I answer them wrong, if I say one thing wrong, then I feel they will be held against me…” stated Bremner.
“I’m being very careful with them, very meticulous on how we’re answering those…and it’s just because of my mistrust of the use of things against the county whenever we put things out.” Bremner asked for patience, adding, “We might have something in the next week” for Glacier County businesswoman and taxpayer Elaine Mitchell and the local newspaper.
Bremner said she was being “very, very careful on how to answer” the questions because she did not know the reason they were being asked. She stated she had a “healthy mistrust for that kind of information because we have one court case pending against us…”
Bremner noted Mitchell is one of four plaintiffs in the court case and stated some of the questions being asked are “fiscal questions on how we’re doing things…” The court case Bremner referred to was filed by Jeff Gottlob, Elaine Mitchell, James Childress “and all others similarly situated” who paid their county taxes under protest in various years.
Mitchell, who attended the meeting via conference call, said she was disappointed about mistrust since questions being asked have to do with transparency and not protested taxes.
Bremner brought up the county’s recently adopted public comment policy and said she has been considering lifting the two minute time limit as long as the public remains respectful and does not criticize her.
Mitchell said she apologized and her intent was not to be disrespectful to Bremner but to help county officials understand why the State of Montana was not accepting the county’s cash reports and was still withholding funds from the county.
Bremner claimed “a group of people have been influencing the State asking them to make us sign an agreement they sent to us this week…” Bremner said a letter sent to county officials from State officials “was precipitated” by a “visit from people from this area, voters, concerned citizens from this area, precipitating this agreement that we need to sign of being oversaw or having consultants coming in every six months every month ….”
Bremner commented her “trepidation” and “the overall concern that I have that people think the county can’t operate and do their operations as fit…We have answered every question the
State has and for them to issue this because of concerned citizens is a concern of mine…”
She concluded, “Give me about a week…it’s just my trepidation on how to answer these questions.”
Mitchell pointed out she was expecting the responses to come from Kittson since Bremner had referred her questions to him. Bremner said Kittson will explain the answers to her and she’ll respond to Mitchell. “Give me until next Thursday (Oct. 21) and I’ll try and make sure Chancy and I get these things done.”
Commissioner John Overcast asked to comment on the issue. “We hold our cards awful close to our chest…questions that have been asked that are four months old…I’m stressing we’ve got to get these answered,” he stated. “It looks like we’re hiding something,” continued Overcast. “Questions should be answered in a proper amount of time…It’s a thin line we’re walking right now about not answering questions have nothing to do with protested taxes, nothing.”
“All of our financials are open record,” responded Bremner.
Overcast asked about an upcoming meeting with State officials. Bremner thought the meeting was set for 9 a.m. on Nov. 4, but when Overcast pointed out that was not a regular meeting date, Bremner said she would doublecheck the date. Overcast said the meeting should be open to the public. Bremner said she would check with State officials since it was a “legal matter we have with the State…I’ll check on it,” she assured Overcast.
As of press time, no responses had been provided by Bremner or Kittson to Mitchell or the newspaper and no further information on the Nov. 4 meeting was available.
(The official recording of the Oct. 14 meeting can be viewed at:
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