No church tax
The Lincoln County Commission heard from two tax-exempt faith-based organizations at their Nov. 28 meeting that had each recently received property tax bills.
Representatives of Troy Assembly of God and International Messengers — a missionary-training nonprofit — came to the meeting to discuss the tax bills with the Commission.
Commissioner Jerry Bennett said that he had contacted the Montana Department of Revenue about the tax bills, which appeared to come from a misunderstanding regarding filing of paperwork to maintain their nonprofit status.
“So I called the state, and they said that we have the authority as commissioners to wave those taxes,” he said.
Bennett said that he is waiting for an agent with the state to get back to him with the specific portion of Montana Code Annotated that gives the Commission that authority.
Bennett said that the property taxes were levied against the organizations because the state sent paperwork out to nonprofits to verify their status, but it may have fallen through the cracks at some organizations.
“When we went to the two-year appropriation cycle, I think they thought that was a good time to catch up on any groups that may or may not still qualify,” Bennett said.
The Commission agreed to table the subject until their Wednesday, Dec. 5 meeting, when they will be in Eureka, and advised the affected organizations to hold off on making payment until then.
In response to a question from the Eureka side of the conference call, the Commission encouraged any other religious organizations with a similar situation to reach out to County Administrator Darren Coldwell.
Commission considered a sample letter at their Nov. 28 meeting in support of further research and sample collection in the Kootenai River system “to assess and help resolve the transboundary pollution issue in the Kootenai River System.”
Commissioner Mark Peck said that he supported research and long term data collection, but wanted the commissioners to not appear to take a side until that data is collected and analyzed.
The draft letter the Commission considered specifically discussed selenium pollution in the river system, which has been linked to coal mining operations in Canada.
At the recommendation of County Administrator Darren Coldwell, the Commission agreed to have Commissioner Mike Cole compose a draft letter.
Peck said that he would like to have all three agree to and sign the letter, and the other commissioners agreed.
The Lincoln County Commission had a first reading of the Lincoln County Community Decay Ordinance 2015-05 at their regular meeting Nov. 28.
Commissioner Jerry Bennett told Health Department Director Kathi Hooper that he was concerned about having the word “adjacent” defined within the ordinance for the purpose of “property adjacent to any public roadway” to avoid confusion.
The Commission also came to consensus that there could be additional options for types of material used in covering berms.
There was discussion of language in the ordinance that could prohibit multiple colors used on a shielding fencing.
Hooper said that allowing people to use multiple color slats in a fence or even paint a mural on the side of a fence could be satisfied through requests for a variance, rather than attempting to address all scenarios in the ordinance.
The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled to take place at the Wednesday, Dec. 12 meeting of the Commission.
Turner Mountain assistance
The Lincoln County Commission approved a request from Turner Mountain Skie Area for funding at their Nov. 28 regular meeting.
The Commission voted unanimously to give the local ski area $3,000 in economic development funds.
Health Board appointment
In agreement with the recommendation from the Lincoln County Board of Health, the County Commission re-appointed Jan Ivers to her position on the board.
Ivers was re-appointed to a three-year term. Her previous term lasted two years, which Health Department Director Kathi Hooper explained had been done so that terms would be staggered.