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Mary Jo Bremner, Chair Glacier Co. Commissioners

Glacier County Com-missioners Michael Des-Rosier and John Overcast were joined with incoming Commissioner Mary Jo Bremner at the Jan. 12 meeting at the Satellite Office in Browning. Roads Supervisor John Evans also attended, along with Treasurer Don Wilson, CFO Chancy Kittson and HR Director Mike Kittson. Former Blackfeet Chairman Harry Barnes arrived to direct tours of his property, and Garth Stewart came to offer his views on various subjects.

Chairman Michael Des-Rosier dealt with the first item of new business, advertising bids on one or more road graders, as what turned out to be his final act as Chairman. He and Evans explained the County entered a lease-to-buy arrangement with Caterpillar to acquire four graders and now, four years later, the lease is coming up in April that requires a balloon payment of $220,000 each if the County chose to complete the purchase. 

In the agreement, Caterpillar guarantees a $220,000 buyback per vehicle, letting the County off the hook on the debt as well as having built up some equity per vehicle via the payments already made.

It should be a simple matter, but because the deal is worth more than $80,000 each, the graders must be put up for bid. DesRosier said it is unlikely anyone will bid more than $220,000 for a used grader, but if someone did, the profit would accrue to the County. The Commissioners voted to approve the advertisement.

Commissioner DesRosier explained every two years the Commissioners vote on officers for the upcoming two years. He noted that while counties have no hard and fast rule for who should become Chairman, Glacier County has traditionally chosen the incoming member from the previous election, who would have two years experience by then, as the new Chairman. He said that tradition was not followed two years ago when Commissioner Tom McKay refused the chairmanship, leaving DesRosier in the position.

In discussing nominations, Commissioner Bremner  said 

outgoing Commissioner Tom McKay had approached her earlier, asking if she would like to be chairman. 

“I said no out of respect for John and Michael,” she said.

Commissioner Overcast demurred on the prospect of being named the new chairman, saying he needs more experience before taking the reins. Instead, he nominated Bremner, who said she would only accept if both Commissioners indicated that was what they wanted. 

Commissioner DesRosier explained the chairmanship involves setting the agenda, signing documents on behalf of the Commissioners and meeting with state officials.

“I’ve had more than one term as Chairman,” he said. “I’m fine either way. If you want it, I will support you.”

The Commissioners voted Bremner the new Chairperson, and Bremner chaired the next vote, which elected DesRosier as Vice Chair.

The Commissioners then moved on to the issue of inspecting a series of structures and lots in Browning that might serve as a new Satellite Office. 

Commissioner DesRosier said the funding for such a move comes from a series of events surrounding the last election. Each year, he said, the County budgets for elections, with the largest budgets needed for years with Presidential elections. This year the County not only received a  HAVA (Help America Vote Act) grant but also a grant in excess of $263,000 from a private source for election needs.

Chief Financial Officer Chancy Kittson recommended spending all the grant money before time ran out, a position future Chair Mary Jo Bremner spoke in support of during a meeting before her inauguration. Some of the funding was used to purchase a trailer and other election equipment, as well as to pay part-time workers.

It was former Commissioner Tom McKay who DesRosier said recommended seeking out a new building or site where a structure might be built to permanently house the Satellite Office. The Commissioners decided at their Dec. 29 meeting to use any leftover grant funds for a permanent County Satellite Office.

The Commissioners were planning to inspect several properties in Browning, including Barnes’ former Blackfeet Construction Supplies, on Jan. 12. Commissioner Overcast, however objected, pointing out the inspection tour was not on the agenda.

Commissioner DesRosier countered, saying the item had been discussed at previous meetings, adding the Commissioners had conducted similar inspections of roads, jobs, buildings and bridges without complaint. “There should be no fears about an illegal meeting,” he said.

Chairman Bremner concurred with DesRosier and said if Overcast was uncomfortable with the arrangement, he was excused from the tour. She said she and DesRosier would travel in different vehicles and take separate tours to avoid any conflict.

Potential Browning Satellite Office locations reviewed

By LEANNE KAVANAGH

Pioneer Press Editor  

The Glacier County Commissioners voted at a special meeting on Dec. 29 to use the remaining grant funds from the 2020 elections to purchase property to house a permanent Satellite Office building in Browning. Currently, Glacier County rents office space from Patrick Schildt and pays $1,000 per month. The cost is split between the Clerk and Recorder and Treasurer’s budgets.

Chief Financial Officer Chancy Kittson prepared a list of potential sites that could serve as the Satellite Office and presented it to the Commissioners at their Dec. 29 meeting. County officials are still determining how much of the $263,830 Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) grant, which was awarded on Oct. 6, was utilized for elections and how much is left to use for the possible purchase of property. 

Information on the potential Satellite Office sites was released by Kittson last week after obtaining permission from the Commissioners. 

The properties are listed by name and no specific address, but a satellite map photo was included with each listing.

Several months ago Glacier County Librarian Jamie Greco suggested the Browning Branch Library branch could be updated to accommodate the Satellite Office. The property is already owned by Glacier County. The Commissioners were reminded about Greco’s suggestion at the Dec. 29 meeting by LeAnne Kavanagh during the public comment portion of the meeting.

•Barnes Property–Current asking price is $203,000 and includes a building that resides on three parcels, which vary in size. Minimal repair is required where a waterline broke. Seller will repair at seller’s cost. The sale would also include six additional parcels that are recorded under Harry Barnes with the County. The parcels have not been verified or researched.  

•Anderson Property–Buil-ding resides on two parcels varying in size. Current asking price is $149,000. Building would require extensive exterior repair, i.e., new roof and siding.

•Evans Property–Property includes two parcels. The asking price of the East parcel is $180,000 and includes a three-bedroom home that could be modified to serve as a Satellite Office with minimal effort. The West parcel includes two rental properties and the asking price is $250,000. Seller offered terms for the West parcel with the asking price payable over five years through a contract for deed, which would allow the County to seek additional funding.

•Undeveloped Lots on Main Street–Three undeveloped parcels owned by two different individuals (names not listed in information provided by the County). Contact made with one owner confirmed the asking price of $20,000 per parcel. Utilities are thought to be onsite. New construction estimate for a building 36 feet by 60 feet, including ground work, concrete, utilities and construction is an estimated $187,000 and does not include parking lot development.

•Powell Property–Existing office building is under a current rental contract. The asking purchase price is $250,000.

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