All three Commissioners attended the March 16 meeting at the courthouse in Cut Bank. They began by listening to Northern Transit Interlocal (NTI) Director David Irvin talk about its service in relation to asking the county for the annual commitment of $5,000.
Northern Transit serves the Golden Triangle area, including Browning, Cut Bank, Conrad and Shelby, Irvin explained. Most of the trips it provides are to and from Great Falls and Kalispell, and often involve folks without transportation needing to access medical care in those locations.
Before COVID-19, Irvin noted around 16,000 rides having been provided in 2019. Now, relatively post-pademic, Northern Transit recorded around 17,000 rides in 2022. He said NTI has 14 drivers on staff, plus a dispatcher.
“We can’t do this without Glacier County,” Irvin concluded.
Asked by Commissioner Vernon “Napi” Billedeaux if he could provide numbers broken down for the individual counties, Irvin said he would send any information needed.
Having been assured by CFO Chancy Kittson that the $5,000 commitment has been budgeted, and Treasurer Don Wilson noting the commitment hasn’t changed over the years due to NTI having secured federal grants, the Commissioners approved the commitment to Northern Transit Interlocal.
The Commissioners then held two initial public hearings on amending the budget. The first involves an insurance claim for damage done to Logan Health’s hospital in Cut Bank, resulting from a vehicle damaging a sign. In the hearing, it was learned that Leavitt Insurance was on the scene at the time doing a review and offered to place that claim on the hospital’s account.
The insurance paid Logan Health $12,134, minus $2,000 deductible.
“They sent us a bill for $2,000,” Chairwoman Mary Jo Bremner said. “I called Logan, and they said they would pay the $2,000 so we need to accept the check for $10,134.80 … I talked to our insurance and they apologized. Then I got a call from Travis [Clark, Leavitt’s Vice President of Operations] who apologized.”
Not only did the Chairwoman complain about Leavitt having authorized the payment without consulting the Commissioners, she also demanded, and received, assurance the hospital’s premiums would not increase as a result.
In order to straighten things out, Bremner said they would accept the check on behalf of the Maintenance Department and send it on to Logan Health, which requires an amendment to the Maintenance budget. She noted the new lease agreement with Logan requires the health care provider to pay for its insurance.
The second hearing was slated for the March 20 meeting.
Finally, commissioners conducted the first public hearing on another budget amendment, this time to the County Attorney’s budget. In this case, a person sent a check for $2,500 in restitution to the County Attorney, that must be paid to a third party, CFO Kittson said. Treasurer Wilson observed the County Attorney had a checking account at First Interstate at one time, but was closed out after five years of inactivity. Now, the Commissioners need to amend the County Attorney’s budget by running the check through the Treasurer’s office to be able to pay it to the third party. The Commissioners noted the Montana Association of Counties recommends having all checks be handled by the county Treasurer’s office.
A second hearing on the matter was slated for Monday, March 20.
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