All three Glacier County Commissioners were on hand for the Nov. 26 meeting at the Satellite Office in Browning to address the single item on the agenda.
County Attorney Terryl Matt brought a copy of a proposed agreement between Glacier County and the Browning School District, East Glacier School District and Mountain View School District.
A copy was not available to the public at press time, but it specifies the districts and county will cooperatively determine how much money is owed so the funds can be turned over to the districts.
Matt also brought a proposed joint motion to vacate a hearing scheduled for Dec. 2 where all the parties ask for more time to finalize and implement the proposed agreement.
Matt noted the agreement she brought did not fully match what she had expected to see. Citing MCA 20-9-235(4) iv, she said transfers of funds from the Treasurer to a school district must take place at the start of the Fiscal Year, which would be July 1, 2020, but the districts negotiated the transfer to take place in February 2020.
She said the Montana Office of Public Instruction said in a letter the statute could be waived, but Matt said it would still run counter to the law and would potentially put the county in legal jeopardy.
As a result, Matt said she’d added language that says all parties in the agreement are aware that it does not comply with MCA 20-9-235(4) iv and that the school districts agree to defend the county and hold it harmless if there are problems later on.
Although Matt said the schools had agreed to that provision, the copy she brought lacked it.
Matt was not successful at the meeting in contacting anyone who could provide her with an updated copy and recommended the Commissioners approve signing it because “the language is in the agreement they agreed to.”
In response, the Commissioners voted to approve signing the agreement “as presented” by the County Attorney, as well as approve signing the motion to vacate the Dec. 2 hearing.
In further conversation, East Glacier School (EGS) Superintendent Karlonna Sheppard and EGS Business Manager Denise Mason and the Commissioners said that they would work toward communicating better with each other, and that they would call to talk over any problems.
Jon Schmid was present and asked about progress on maintaining the initial mile-and-a-half of the Heart Butte Cut Across Road just off U.S. Highway 2.
Commission Chairman Michael DesRosier said Roads Supervisor John Evans had been told to begin work on the road, Matt said she had two concerns about the agreement. If her office were to sign onto the proposed transfer of that portion of the Heart Butte Cut Across Road, she would first need a cost estimate; then she would need to have the right-of-way issue resolved.
As to the first item, DesRosier said Evans is working on the numbers, which should be available soon. As to the second, he recounted the fact that all but one landowner had signed onto the agreement, and that property owners there were sold lots that extended to the middle of the road. As a result, about 150 feet on the north side, just after Railroad Creek, is in question.
DesRosier said since the road has been in common use for decades it might qualify for a prescriptive easement.
Matt did not agree or disagree, but Schmid said even if the county only plowed half the road along that stretch, that would be agreeable to the residents there.
The Commissioners said that would be possible, so with that out of the way it only leaves the cost estimate and a public hearing to complete the process.