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May 2017 Lincoln County Clerks Corner

by Leigh Riggleman & Robin Benson
| May 16, 2017 4:00 AM

This column is to inform, educate and engage the public. We hope to pick topics of public interest and welcome any questions and comments.

Budget for fiscal year 2017/18: Lincoln County has restructured the county budget and its process under a finance department that includes payroll and accounting personnel. With this change we welcome County Administrator Darren Coldwell as finance director. This move improves the budget process for both county government and taxpayers, because with more eyes on the budget, there is more attention to detail. Further, all services are being examined and everything is on the table. We also started the budget process early; work sessions began in February and are continuing weekly throughout the budget process.

A homestead declaration may protect your home from creditors: In Montana, up to $250,000 in assessed value of a home or mobile home can be protected against most creditors’ claims if the owner files a homestead declaration. A homestead is the house or mobile home that a person lives in and the land on which it sits. The property must be a person’s primary residence to be eligible for a homestead declaration. This may include a mobile home or manufactured home where the owner does not own the land the mobile home sits on. After the homestead declaration form is completed, signed and notarized, it should be filed in the clerk and recorder’s office in the county in which the home or mobile is located. If married, both spouses should sign the declaration. There are specific instances in which the Montana Legislature decided it would be unjust to proved a homestead exemption. For more information, you can obtain a copy of the Homestead Declaration Guide at the Lincoln County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Restoration of the 1910 Survey of Lincoln County: A 1910 survey of Lincoln County found in a courthouse vault and sent to Chicago for restoration is back home in Lincoln County, where it hangs framed in the courthouse lobby. The survey was finalized the year following Lincoln County’s establishment. Interestingly, because the map was made prior to the construction of Libby Dam some towns no longer exist or their names have changed. The county has a records preservation fund that receives $1.00 from every recording, so this project was not paid by taxpayer dollars. We are excited to preserve Lincoln County’s historical origin. Printed copies of various sizes are available upon request. (While we’re on the subject of maps: A vintage World War I map was donated to the Heritage Museum for preservation and public display. During the war, this map was made available so people could come to the courthouse to see where their loved ones were serving.) Both maps are of great historical significance.

Third annual county board training: This is a time set aside for all county boards, the commission, county administrator and the clerk and recorder to receive training and guidance collectively. This year, the main focus will be for every board that receives public funds and has a budget. We will discuss an improved budget process, roles and responsibilities to the taxpayer and the applicable MCAs.

Special federal election: This special election to replace Congressman Ryan Zinke, whom President Donald Trump appointed Secretary of the Interior, will be held May 25. Please note that the special election falls on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend and will be a normal polling-place election. People not registered to vote may register late and receive a ballot by presenting themselves at the Lincoln County Courthouse during regular business hours except for May 24, when no ballots will be issued between noon and 5 p.m. Absentee ballots for this election were sent May 1. If you would like an absentee ballot, please stop by the Clerk and Recorder’s office

Municipal elections: Libby, Troy, Rexford and Eureka will hold municipal elections on Tuesday, November 7. Filing for these offices opened April 20 and will close June 19. Forms for filing are available from the Clerk and Recorders office, city and town business offices or at www.lincolncountymt.us.

Looking ahead: Training for election judges will be scheduled in spring 2018. We’re always looking for new judges, who must be registered voters and willing to commit to working two days: the June 5, 2018 primary election and the November 6, 2018 general election. If you are interested in becoming an election judge, please call for training dates and times.

Lincoln County Clerk and Recorder Robin Benson can be reached at 406-283-2301; Lincoln County Election Administrator Leigh Riggleman can be reached at 406-283-2302.