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Missoula County Weekly | June 17-23: Commissioners to host budget presentation this week; events celebrate pollinator week

Post Date:06/17/2024 4:15 PM

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Commissioners to host budget presentation Thursday, at 6 p.m.

The Missoula County commissioners and other officials will host a public presentation at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 20, to provide a preliminary outlook on the County's fiscal year 2025 budget.

Members of the public and media are encouraged to attend the presentation to learn more about the County’s budgeting process and how it affects their property taxes.

The presentation will be held in the Sophie Moiese Room of the Courthouse Annex, 200 W. Broadway. Attendees should use the entrance on the north side of the annex near the Mountain Line transfer center. Participants can also join this meeting virtually via Teams.

The presentation will provide an overview of the County’s budget for FY 25 and serve as a starting point for residents to provide feedback to the commissioners ahead of the formal budget hearings later this summer. The commissioners will take no formal action on the budget at this presentation.

Visit missoula.co/budgets to see the FY 2024 Budget Book, which features department descriptions and staffing, capital projects like building renovations and more. You can even compare expenditures and revenues to previous years. No more flipping through massive documents – the Budget Book is fully interactive with graphs, tables and charts.

Information about the FY 2025 budget process and the link to join the presentation virtually are available online at missoulacountyvoice.com.

Commissioners to hear resolution about building permit exceptions, Western Materials variance at public meetings

The commissioners will consider a resolution to exempt some structures from building permit requirements at their administrative public meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 18. If adopted, building permits would no longer be required for some green houses, decks, pergolas, certain additions to existing residential-only buildings, and certain agricultural buildings not meant for human habitation or commercial use.

A survey about building permit exemptions closed on May 3. Staff compiled results and will present a recommendation for the Missoula County commissioners to make their final decision on these exemptions. View the resolution with the full list of possible exemptions at missoulacountyvoice.com.

At 9 a.m., Thursday, June 20, the commissioners will hold a fourth public hearing about a use variance request to expand the Western Materials gravel pit south of Lolo. Learn more about this request at missoulacountyvoice.com.

Celebrate National Pollinator Week at the GW Marks Exploration Center and Rocky Mountain Gardens

National Pollinator Week is here, and the Missoula County Department of Ecology and Extension and the Missoula Conservation District want to celebrate with you! During the week of June 17 to 23, we have a diversity of events and activities planned for you to learn about and protect these important creatures that sustain our ecosystems in western Montana and beyond. Help us plant the Pollinator Garden, build a bee hotel, learn about the Montana Bumble Bee Atlas and celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Missoula Conservation District. Click here to read more and stop by the G.W.  Marks Exploration Center (located at the Missoula County Fairgrounds, 1075 South Ave. W.) for the following events:

  • Monday, June 17:
    • 6 to 8 p.m.: Building Bee Hotels and “Mullet” Gardening for Pollinators
  • Tuesday, June 18, 4-6 p.m.:
    • “Garden for Pollinators” event with the National Wildlife Federation
  • Wednesday, June 19
    • 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Pollinator Garden Installation! Planting with Marchies Nursery
    • 5 to 7 p.m.: Planting with Missoula Conservation District. Get free wildflower seed for your pollinator gardens from the Conservation District!
  • Thursday, June 20, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.:
    • “Exploring the Life of Native Bees: Our Pollinator Heroes,” with Rachel Dunham from the Xerces Society
  • Saturday, June 22
    • 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Family pollinator activities for the Rocky Mountain Gardens including planting and crafts

Maclay bridge now open to traffic with 11 ton weight limit

Missoula County reopened Maclay Bridge west of Missoula on June 11. Missoula County Public Works completed the necessary repairs to allow traffic back on the bridge, and engineering firm HDR has inspected the repairs. The bridge is open to traffic, bikes and pedestrians. The weight limit for the bridge will remain at 11 tons for now. The Montana Department of Transportation plans to complete an inspection later this month to evaluate that limit.

Though the repairs will allow the County to reopen the one-lane bridge, placed at its current location in 1953, these repairs are not intended as a long-term fix. Construction on a new bridge upstream that would connect South Avenue to River Pines Road is tentatively slated to begin in 2026. More information on the South Avenue Bridge is available online.

Prepare your home for wildfire season

Many Missoula County residents live within the Wildland-Urban Interface, which is any area where the combination of development (like homes and businesses) and nearby vegetation can result in an increased risk of damage from wildfires. Visit missoula.co/wildfireprep to see the WUI map and links to other resources.  

Colt Fire burns near Seeley Lake, July 2023Here are some ways to reduce the risk of property damage or loss before wildfire season:  

• Regularly remove plant debris like leaves from around your home. Embers carried by the wind can easily ignite dry materials in gutters or on your roof.  

Request a free Wildfire Risk Assessment from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. A local fire professional on how to prepare your land and house for wildfire.

• Reduce flammable materials. Wildfire Ready Missoula has a cost-share program to help individuals and communities reduce flammable fuels around homes and private property. This is a collaborative program between United Way, Missoula County and local contractors.    

• Contact your local fire district for more information on wildfire fuel mitigation. Missoula Rural Fire and Frenchtown Fire both offer fuel mitigation services to property owners living in their districts.

Mythbuster: “Missoula County’s subdivision approval process always takes three years.”

Missoula County myth busters logoThis is false. The subdivision process is complex and involves both the public and private sectors. Subdivision review typically consists of two steps: preliminary plat review and final plat review. Per state law, the County has 35 to 80 working days, depending on the number of lots, to review the preliminary plat application to ensure it meets all subdivision design standards and to ensure subdivision impacts, such as traffic, impacts to services, potential hazards and impacts to wildlife habitat and the natural environment, have been mitigated through conditions of approval.

If subdivision applications are mostly complete for this review, the process is short – perhaps a few months. When an application lacks legally required elements or is insufficient, staff return it to the developer to add or revise information. This back-and-forth between the developer and County staff can take time.

Once a preliminary plat application is complete and staff review it, the county commissioners hold a public hearing to approve, approve if certain conditions are met, or deny the subdivision. For the final plat, the county has 30 days for review, and a conditionally approved preliminary plat receives final approval once all conditions of the preliminary approval are met.

Typically, the longest phase of the subdivision process is the phase between preliminary plat and final plat, when the developer and their team complete the designs and build infrastructure, such as roads and walkways, to fulfill the conditions established in the preliminary approval to prepare the site for development. This requires coordinating architects, engineers, builders, contractors, subcontractors, equipment and materials. Often, the most time-consuming process in this phase isn’t the physical process of construction, but contracting and securing financing from lenders.

If you have additional questions, contact the Planning, Development and Sustainability Department at pds@missoulacounty.us or 406-258-4657.

Engage with us on Missoula County Voice! 

Don’t miss these opportunities to get involved with county government:

Job openings

Looking for a job with great benefits? Join our team at Missoula County! Benefits include health, dental and vision insurance; paid parental leave and vacation, sick and holiday leave; free and confidential counseling services through an Employee Assistance Program; and enrollment in the Public Employees’ Retirement System. The following departments are hiring:       
  • Animal Control
  • Detention Facility
  • Ecology & Extension
  • Fairgrounds
  • Facilities
  • Financial Services
  • Grants
  • Larchmont Golf Course
  • Missoula Public Library
  • Missoula Public Health
  • Planning, Development and Sustainability
  • Partnership Health Center
  • Public Works

See the full list of job openings at Missoula County and apply today!  

Missoula County in the News:

Selected Upcoming Events at County Facilities:

Find more events this week on the County’s Event Calendar!     

What are the commissioners up to? 

Recently, the Missoula County commissioners…

  • Authorized the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to access Marshall Mountain Park as part of a Brownfields remedial investigation to determine the scope of hazardous materials (like lead-based paint) at the lodge and base buildings. DEQ has agreed to clean up the site using funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more about the Brownfields program here.
  • Approved a contract between Missoula Public Health and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to support the Missoula City-County Air Pollution Control Program. MPH will receive $167,650 for this program in in fiscal year 2025.
  • Approved the FY25 Alcohol Tax Fund Service Provider Designation Form, which allows the county commissioners to designate state-approved substance use disorder prevention and treatment providers to receive alcohol tax money from the state. 14% of earmarked alcohol tax funds will be awarded to All Nations Health Center, Cedar Creek Integrated Health, Stepping Stones Counseling, Crosswinds Recovery and Healing Homes Counseling in September.
  • Attended the Montana Association of Counties district meeting in Polson.

 Keep up with the commissioners yourself by attending a public meeting. Commissioners’ meetings and selected board meetings for the upcoming week are listed below, with links to agendas and Microsoft Teams links: 

Tuesday, June 18

Wednesday, June 19

  • No meetings scheduled

 Thursday, June 20

Monday, June 24

 Please note that agendas for department and administrative meetings are published two business days before the meeting, and public meeting agendas are published the Friday before the meeting. Administrative and public meeting video recordings are available on the Missoula County YouTube page, and MCAT plays the public meetings live on Spectrum Channel 190.

Email bcc@missoulacounty.us or call 406-258-4877 if you have any questions or comments on an upcoming meeting.