The New County Ambulance
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11898) 14 years ago
So, the county bought a $48,000 ambulance, which they will be storing in a garage. I am wondering if any county resident can borrow it? I think I would like to start a "Ghostbusters" type business and I bet that ambulance would come in mighty handy. Now to figure out where to set up the neutron grid to store ghosts. . .maybe the old slaughterhouse? Is that cool old barn out by the old county rest home still standing? Hmmm. . .

First the data center! Next, GHOST STORAGE!!!!!

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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
According to the Miles City Star the County Commissioners authorized Roger Hespe of Newcastle Ambulance Service in Wyoming to find an ambulance for the County. The commissioners didn't see the need for using a competitive bidding process on this purchase -- "it was below the threshold".

Asked when the decision to purchase the ambulance was made the commissioners couldn't recall because it had been so long since the decision was made and a review of County Commission agendas since Dec. 12, 2007, found no agenda item related to purchasing an ambulance.

I like how the Star story goes on to say that 14 percent of ambulance calls are from the county and 86 percent from the city. Considering that all of the city residents are also county residents I'd say 100% of the calls must be coming from county residents, wouldn't you?

Anyhow, I'm glad (and the County Commissioners should be glad) I don't reside in Custer County. I am not impressed by the way they conduct County business.

- Dave
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1278) 14 years ago
Wasn't the number for "equipment" listed as $20,000? I seem to remember that number from a video I watched...... Guess they kinda overshot the number with that ambulance!

And am I the only one that can smell something bad in the air from having the possible ambulance contractor to find a rig to use? Again, without competitive bid?

I don't think the commissioners have learned anything. It appears business as usual.
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
So many questions... so few answers:

1.) What does the County intend to do with the ambulance?
2.) The County entered into an agreement to have Miles City Fire & Rescue provide ambulance service to the County. Does this mean they intend to terminate that agreement?
3.) If the County intends to run its own ambulance service how does it intend to staff the service and how does it intend to pay for the staff?
4.) Who is Roger Hespe and how and why was he selected to procure the ambulance? Was he paid a fee/commission on the transaction?
5.) What is the County's threshold for competitive bids and is that defined by State law, County law, or at the whim of the Commissioners?
6.) How is it possible that the County Commission made what I assume to be not an insignificant capital acquisition and yet the Commissioners can't remember when or how the decision was made? How silly is that?

- Dave
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Posted by RC72 (+5) 14 years ago
Who is running for County Commisioner?
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Posted by howdy (+4949) 14 years ago
Hey Eric, you should run for commissioner, since you are pretty good at doing research, etc on here and God knows someone is needed that thinks before they jump into foolishness. But I wouldnt blame ya for not wanting to do it. Alot of hard heads to deal with. Yuck!
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Posted by Buck Showalter (+4454) 14 years ago
Speaking of, where the hell is Eric?
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11898) 14 years ago
Busy running for county commissioner.
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
Oh, so that's why Eric's Miles City Cam is now pointed generally in the direction of the Court House.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+850) 14 years ago
LOL. Actually, I have kind of neglected the cam for a while and thought a change was way over due.

Buck - We have been really busy lately at the store. Lots of things going on. Also, with my involvement with Rotary and our Duck Race, I have been super occupied. Sorry I haven't been around lately. (More on the Duck Race to come later.)

Howdy. Funny that you should say that. I filed last week to run against Jack Nesbit. No one else filed, so it is just the two of us running.

Re: Ambulance etc... I have several documents of interest that will be posted later this week.

Eric
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Posted by howdy (+4949) 14 years ago
Glad to hear it Eric, I wish you the best of luck. We need more active "community oriented" folks involved I think.
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Posted by City County Resident (+54) 14 years ago
Eric is busy moving into his new apartment so he can run for commissioner...he didn't live in the right precinct. How long does a person have to live in an area before he or she can run for office to represent his "neighbors"?

Could be that he was called out on a fire; being that he's a part-paid fireman.
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Posted by Bruce Helland (+592) 14 years ago
Talk to the county election administrator for your answers. Sad that more people didn't file. Shame on us for complaining and not doing anything about it!
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+850) 14 years ago
"Eric is busy moving into his new apartment so he can run for commissioner..."

Really? When did I get new apartment? What is my new address? Where should I go to visit myself?

"...he didn't live in the right precinct."

There are no precincts as they relate to county commissioners. They are districts. I have lived in the same house in the same district for nearly four years.

"How long does a person have to live in an area before he or she can run for office to represent his "neighbors"?]"

That depends greatly on the office being represented. For county commissioners, the requirement is two years.

2 << 4
4 >> 2

"Could be that he was called out on a fire; being that he's a part-paid fireman."

The records will display accurately that I have not been called out on a fire in years.

I would take the time to speak with you Mr. Resident, if that is your real name? We might find the time mutually enlightening.
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Posted by Jerry Blithers (+2) 14 years ago
Seriously, City County Resident has brought up tons of topics we need to be taking seriously. For real, why isn't anyone discussing both side. I was at that big meating and I agree with you that the audience was stacked! Some of us wanted to speak out, but honestly were afraid to. Not everyone supports you Whalen - get used to it. If the MCFD can just go around beating up the peole they don't like, then why would anyone speak out at that meating.

I'm proud of what the commissioners have done. They might be the only ones out there that really care about us out here. I'm gonna give 'em a little room. I've been to some of these meatings, and I think they're on the right track. You people (and this means you Eric) need to realize that these guys are under constant attack and are doing a great job that's really hard. Just because they had a few minor trip ups with a couple things doesn't mean a thing. So long as we get what we really need, it's pretty easy to over look a few bumps in the road. Get over it!

I've been watching these threads for some time now, and we all need to rread City County Resident posts again. You do the math and see if there isn't a lot of reason in there. I'm glad your willing to speak up a little. I'm with you though, I won't use my real name because you people just get nasty, and I for one don't want to lose my job just because I had an opinion. I still pay taxes and I still shop in your stores, and yes, I still have my vote!
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15076) 14 years ago
It is strange how some of you keep referring to "another side of the issue that needs discussed" but never say what that is...

So what I understand is that "Mr. Nosebleed" went and bought an ambulance off of ebay for the city to use in lieu of giving them cash. Is that the story?



[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 3/26/2008).]
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Posted by Buck Showalter (+4454) 14 years ago
Good luck Eric. Hope you can overcome the influence of the moron constituency.
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
Something that seems to have been forgotten in this whole fiasco between the city and the county is that the city threatened through a resolution to cut off all services to the county as of midnight on December 31, 2007. That resolution states "If the mayor determines to discontinue to provide service outside of the City limits and/or to discontinue providing Central Dispatch services to County departments subsequent to midnight on December 31, 2007, he shall provide Custer County at least thirty day advance written notice of the termination of such services. Any other service may be discontinued without such advance written notice." In response, the county did go searching for alternative services. Alternative services were met with resistance by the citizens of MC. In response, the county purchased the ambulance "just in case". This sad state of affairs started because of differences of opinion about budgets, both city and county.

I have read in previous threads, complaints from city residents that they pay county taxes and therefore felt ignored by the county budgeting process. There are two separate government entities here, Mayor-City council and County Commissioner and each have their own obligations and responsibilities. Everyone pays taxes, be it rural or city and those monies are divided according to the Montana statutes. Money allocated to the county goes to the management of the business and concerns of in county in all cases where no other provision is made by law and vice-versa for the city. An example is that of roads/streets. The county has a certain amount of funds available for the repair and maintenance of county roads, the city has funds budgeted for repair and maintenance of city streets. Each has their own road or street department. Granted that Miles City is the only main urban area in Custer County, but that does not mean that the city gets to use the County funds and the County gets to use the City funds. Interlocal agreements are generated so the county and city can mutually aid each other so as to try and save some dollars and not double up on services. Having lived in a rural area for many years as well as in urban areas, I understand how services can be very much stretched in the country especially when you look at the miles of roadways to be maintained versus that of the city. On the other hand, city residents expect their roads to be paved and well maintained. Pot-holes are frowned upon and therefore the city does try to keep on top of them. As for ambulance service, when I lived out in the country, when hurt, we drove ourselves, it was a whole lot quicker. There were some horrendous accidents where an ambulance (volunteer service) was called. In many situations, there was not a whole lot that could be done.

Eric, I see you are running for county commissioner. I hope you understand what the general authority is of that governing body, otherwise I would direct you to the Montana Code Annotated.

P.S. Was that city resolution ever rescinded?

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/26/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/26/2008).]
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
So you consider those residents of Custer County a bunch of morons should they decide not to vote for Eric? Could it be there may be some very thoughtful and intelligent voters out there who may have other ideas about whom they want in office?

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/26/2008).]
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Posted by Brian (+354) 14 years ago
Could it be there may be some very thoughtful and intelligent voters out there who may have other ideas about whom they want in office?

Doubtful.
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
Time will tell. I still believe there are good people in Custer County who can still think for themselves.
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Posted by Brian (+354) 14 years ago
I'm sorry, I should have specified. I believe there are smart, thoughtful people in Custer County. I have the privilege of working with them on a daily basis. I just don't see how anybody with any sense would want the current regime to go unchanged.
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
Chameleons make poor candidates especially those coming in with an agenda.
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Posted by LG (+201) 14 years ago
All candidates have an agenda. Some just lie to the public about it. Or bid on ebay for a new ambulance.
Mary, I have a question. How do you keep the people that think for themselves out of the polling place?
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
People still have the right to vote and vote in privacy. The sad thing is that in an average election, less than half of the constituants choose to vote. And hey, eBay is a great place to shop. And you are telling me that you haven't gone that route to find a good deal? You don't know what you are missing.
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Posted by LG (+201) 14 years ago
Love the circumventing logic, Mary. Very classic politician.

Even though the 'deals' are great on ebay, we pay our taxes here in Custer County to help fund Custer County. So, in seeking without bid outside of Custer County for something that could possibly have been found even within state, the commissioners pooped on us.

If the incumbent regime is unwilling to listen to the people's voice, why vote? I know I don't enjoy paying out the wahzoo to be ignored or poorly served.

I am not going to delve into the myriad of other issues that should be brought to public attention at this juncture, but in true cliche form I will say it's time for change.

[This message has been edited by LG (edited 3/26/2008).]
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
LG
You want change? What do you mean by "change". You say the people have spoken and the commissioners are not listening. Are you telling me that all of the Custer County residents have spoken their disapproval? All of the registered voters in Custer County?

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/27/2008).]
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11898) 14 years ago
Not every single one but a large majority has complained about how the commissioners are running things. Many of us suspect they are acting illegally as well. That majority is being ignored. If even one resident complained, the commissioners should respond to that complaint. Many have complained and are being ignored.

I wonder how many folks defended the county commissioners back in 1884, was it, when the state had to step in because of the corruption. Ah, history repeats itself. . .

[This message has been edited by Amorette Allison (edited 3/27/2008).]
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
Amorette,
Have you a list of the complaints. Write them up and ask to be placed on the agenda of one of the Commissioners' meetings. Have you actually listened to their side, as well? There are always two sides to an issue and it takes two to tango.

You say the majority is being ignored? What comsists of the majority?
As for illegal dealings, what tangible proof do you have? Have you gone to the County Attorney for his opinion on any of these so called illegal dealings? Loose talk is like the telephone game. Find the source and write all of it down and ask to be put on the agenda.

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/27/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/27/2008).]
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Posted by Dan (+457) 14 years ago
What is the other side of the issue?
Put on the agenda? If I am not mistaken that is one complaint the constituents have is that meetings have not been advertised, agendas have not been posted and the commissioners are doing things that arent on the agenda or anywhere to found in the minutes (like buy an ambulance)-
People keep claiming that mayor threatened to end services and this was just cause for the commissioners to buy an ambulance and create a fire co. The commissioners said themselves in letters to the mayor they werent going to pay for these things - who created the emergency situation?
I think the issue most folks have now is that the county commissioners are IGNORING what their constituents are asking them to do. When you are elected you are elected to represent what the constituents want - not what you think they want or need. Thank God we have these omnipotent beings in charge to protect us poor, stupid peasants from making the wrong choice!
To me this is not a budget issue - it is the fact that elected official are ignoring what their constituents want!
Supporters of the commissioners continue to say "there are two sides to this story", well, lets hear it! What is the other side? Maybe I missed it but in my eyes only one side hear has made their side known - if I'm wrong please fill me in??

[This message has been edited by Dan (edited 3/27/2008).]
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
The agenda for the week is published in the Star every Friday for the coming week. The agenda is also posted on the wall in the court house near the commissioners' office. If the Star fails to put it in that Friday when it is delivered, that is their ommission. Otherwise, go over to the Court House and find where it is posted. The law says is is to be posted 48 hours prior to the meeting/meetings. Does it say it must be in a newspaper? As long as it is posted in a public place, they are following the law.

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/27/2008).]
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11898) 14 years ago
The commissioners make last minute changes to the agenda and then act on those changes. The agenda is also unclear. Rather than putting, say, purchase of an ambulance at the cost of almost $50,000 on the agenda, it had just the name of the person they were buying the ambulance from. That makes it rather unclear to the general public. The minutes of the county commission meetings also make no reference to the purchase of an ambulance so I am wondering when and where it was discussed, since it wasn't discussed at a meeting where minutes were taken.

My next question. . .

If the CITY were to buy a $48,000 piece of equipment they didn't need and were only going to store in a garage, would you be okay with that or would you think it a waste of tax payer money? If the CITY were to post incomplete agendas and keep incomplete minutes, would that be fine by you?
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1278) 14 years ago
It appears that Mary has a belief and has not reviewed the situation very much. Mary, if you would review some postings on this site, you would find what the complaints are, where they are based, and how this all started. I think you are missing the boat right now.
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
What evidence do you have that the Commissioners make last minute changes prior to the meeting and than discuss those changes? As for the actual minutes, that is why there are tape recorders and tape recordings, which are available. How specific do you want your agendas? As for storing a piece of equipment, rarely used or not used, what leads you to believe that the county will not be using that vehicle? Has it already arrived and been placed on mothballs?
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Posted by J. Dyba (+1343) 14 years ago
I would read this post by the Mayor. Hard to ignore facts.

http://milescity.com/foru...fpid=39963
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Posted by Dan (+457) 14 years ago
Who is staffing the county ambulance?
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
Mary and others may also want to read this letter to the editor of the Miles City Star which Eric Brandt has made available on his website:

http://www.milescityvoice...0325224759
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Posted by LG (+201) 14 years ago
There's a whole bunch more at the bottom of the homepage, but you have to have adobe reader to open the PDFs.

They're stored under these titles:

Miles City Star Articles
City Council Correspondence With Mayor and Vice Versa
City Council Resolutions
Land Exchange
District Map
Fire and Police

Interesting reading.

Jerry, you really need to silence yourself with some freedom fries my friend.

[This message has been edited by LG (edited 3/27/2008).]
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1278) 14 years ago
Notice the first name signed on the letter is a former Commissioner! I move to recall the county government.....
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Posted by City County Resident (+54) 14 years ago
I admit, you caught me red-penned! I tend to write over the top! Yikes!!! Well, forgive me, but I'm sick and tired of all the crap and spin doctoring that has been going on. Join our club--the "he-man woman-haters club," think like we do or we will attack you! Too sad, Eric likes to micromanage, but not live under the scrutiny he applies to others. Maybe you better think twice about running for commissioner, Eric, or get used to it! My point is, you can't please us all, and some of us YOU personally will never please. You have been dredging for dirt all along, trying to build up a little following and make another bid for public office...what better way than to cast a shadow on the decent men who earn half-time pay for well beyond full-time commitments?! You lost the race for mayor so hopefully you're used to that status...it will hurt less this time.

If the county commissioners bought an ambulance, big whoop! They are charged with our welfare and when you've got a run-and-gun mayor who doesn't mind threatening the safety of county folk, then I couldn't care less if the county owns an ambulance. Seems like Mutual Aid is one-sided in this whole affair anytime someone's home burns to the ground because MCFD doesn't feel like responding...or as the case may be, responds and then decides to turn around and go home, instead. Guess we know where they "draw the line."

Speaking of which, "Sure hope none of the commissioners' homes catch on fire..." sound familiar? Spoken by one of your biggest supporters, nothing other than a fat-on-the-hog MCFD ego. Now that's sick! Not to mention, threatening. If you can't hit 'em without getting taken to court, it's okay to intimidate 'em?
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Posted by City County Resident (+54) 14 years ago
Here we go again...are we to believe the good ole mayor is above bias? Give me a break! You want to talk about Blind Faith...look in the mirror.
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Posted by City County Resident (+54) 14 years ago
Notice the first name signed on the letter is a former Commissioner! I move to recall the county government.....

Need I remind you, he is also one of those who gave away our Ten Commandments monument? Oh, yeah, now there's a man whom I'd blindly follow anywhere...

BTW: Have you moved back home, Cutt Jr? If not, shut up. The only "movement" you can rightly make is in your bathroom. Play in your own yard. I likely pay more taxes in this county than you earn in a year. Unlike you, I have a stake in how my taxes are spent. Still demonstrating dilusions of grandeur, eh?

I'd opt to recall the vote for Mayor (on the grounds of threatening the safety of the public). I have serious concerns with any man who is willing to make a point by placing good people at risk.

[This message has been edited by City County Resident (edited 3/27/2008).]

[This message has been edited by City County Resident (edited 3/27/2008).]
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3718) 14 years ago
If I talked like to people in my home town that I guess I would probably be anonymous too.
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
Yeah, the County Commissioners are probably thinking, "With friends like this who needs enemies?"
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+850) 14 years ago
Can I call you Mr. P?

I shall address select comments from your prior responses.

"what better way than to cast a shadow on the decent men who earn half-time pay for well beyond full-time commitments?!"

Of whom are you speaking, specifically?

"You lost the race for mayor so hopefully you're used to that status...it will hurt less this time."

Hmm. Interesting that I missed that election completely. Could someone be kind enough to post the election results from when I lost a mayoral race? Was it close?

"If the county commissioners bought an ambulance, big whoop! They are charged with our welfare and when you've got a run-and-gun mayor who doesn't mind threatening the safety of county folk, then I couldn't care less if the county owns an ambulance."

I suggest that 18 months of negotiation and continued services despite non-payment demonstrated something rather more restrained than "run-and-gun". Reading the related documents demonstrated to me a chain of anti-negotiation from the commissioners.

"Seems like Mutual Aid is one-sided in this whole affair anytime someone's home burns to the ground because MCFD doesn't feel like responding...or as the case may be, responds and then decides to turn around and go home, instead. Guess we know where they "draw the line.""

I might direct you to the dispatch records on that call. This case was not a mutual aid case. It was a case of the address being mis-reported. In order for there to be mutual aid, there must be a specific request for mutual aid, which was not requested.

It is very important that the aiding agency NOT aid unless aid is specifically requested. Otherwise, not only does it violate an agreement that took a very long time to negotiate, but it could open the aiding party to undue liability. CCRVFC specifically required that provision in the contract.

re: parking in alley.
Despite fervent research, I am unable to find evidence of the fire chief parking in anyone's alley. Can you help my investigation out by providing some specifics? Date, Time and Location would be best.

Thank you.
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
>>Can I call you Mr. P?

Actually CCR once described herself as a "hometown girl" so perhaps "Ms. P" would be more appropriate.

Here:

http://www.milescity.com/...id=4389#63

Which was another time where she went all jiggy on Cory Cutting. Cory and CCR must be good friends from way back.

- Dave
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1278) 14 years ago
Well, this "person" has shown that he/she can read! Of course it's not a real question as to who I am. I have never hidden my identity... on here or on my vehicle! But that's old news. This person will never be man/woman enough to own up to the rantings. So I dismiss the hacks. Maybe this fine outstanding citizen would like to meet face to face. I'll be in Miles City in June and would be happy to sit down with them.

As for the whole being a tax payer thing.... You're not as smart as you think you are. See, my family does have property there. My family does pay taxes. I do have a say in family events. So I do have a say in who is representing my family. I may not be able to personally vote them out, but I can influence the people that can. And at least I pay attention to what's going on before I make a comment.

"I likely pay more taxes in this county than you earn in a year."

I didn't know that the level of the quality of the representation you receive is directly related to the amount of taxes you pay. Hummph. That's news!

Apparently this person, M or F has the delusions that they are way more important than others. You can hack on me, but that doesn't make you important. Your tax bill doesn't make you important. In fact, ..... oh yeah, you're not important.

[This message has been edited by Cory Cutting (edited 3/28/2008).]
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
Not sure why it always has to go down like this.

Just curious, I know it's been documented here that the City was asking the County to cover 40% of their ambulance cost ($104,000)

I'm wondering what the final amount was that City and County agreed to? Anyone know?
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
According to Custer County Resolution No. 2008-27 (adopted 15 January 2008):

http://www.milescityvoice...?fileId=21
[f]".
.
.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County will pay the
City pursuant to the payment of 2005-2006 plus 5% for services
provided from July 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007 as follows:
a.) Ambulance Services $20,478.00
.
.
."[/f]
And apparently they intend to pay for ambulance services monthly at the same rate ($3413.00 / month) between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2008.

- Dave
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
Well if that's the case, from purely the county's perspective, it might look like the ambulance paid for itself.
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
I'm not sure I understand, Rick. The City and County had already agreed to the ~$41,000 for ambulance services before the County's ambulance came on the scene. Why spend the extra $48,500 on the ambulance if you've already negotiated the price you want for a well-trained, 24-hour-staffed ambulance service?

Do you think that the City really expected $104,000 out of the County? If so, it wouldn't be smart negotiating tactics to enter negotiations asking for that amount. (I'm not sure the City did -- maybe they started by asking $200,000...)

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Custer County's population at 11,188. Miles City's population is estimated at 8,083. Ismay's population is estimated at 25. Does Ismay have its own ambulance or do they benefit from Custer County's contract with Miles City? Whatever... let's say there are 11,188 - 8,083 = 3,105 County residents benefiting from that $3,413/month ambulance service payment. $3,413/3,105 comes out to a $1.10/person/month. Let's say the County had paid the City's $104,000 asking price -- $8,666.67/month. $8,666.67/3,105 would be $2.79/person/month.

Think about that... $1.10 or $2.79 per month for the County residents to help subsidize the ambulance service. If times are so tough in eastern Montana that you guys are on the verge of fisticuffs over that small amount of money then all I can say is, "Wow."

- Dave
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11898) 14 years ago
The county ambulance is not staffed. It will be--if it isn't already--stored in the county shops for the time being. The county hope to rent it to someone at some point to recoup some of the costs but it is not currently in use. Which is why I want to borrow it to ghost bust.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
I'm not sure I understand, Rick. The City and County had already agreed to the ~$41,000 for ambulance services before the County's ambulance came on the scene.

I'm not sure whether that's the case or not. It may be, or it may not. If they only agreed to acquire the ambulance after the negotiations were settled, then I'd agree with you.

I'm just saying the whole thing was ugly, and rationally speaking, once the city threatened to cut off services, the county either had to agree to pay whatever ridiculous price the city demanded, or come up with (less appealing) alternatives. I don't believe a 250% markup just for the sake of negotiating wiggle-room is really a reasonable position either. It's hard to take that kind of "negotiation" in good faith. The city had no monopoly on reason.

Let's remember that if a city-imposed 30 day deadline had passed, and the county were still scrambling for an ambulance, everyone would have been up in arms that they didn't have anything in place. And contrary to what's been suggested, if the county rolled out a $6,000 junker, everyone would be attacking them for nickle-and-diming public safety.

It really should have never come to any of this. But I find it funny that the government entity that put a 30-day gun to anothers' head then publicly questions the "streamlined" nature of the resulting decisions. It seems they thought they were entitled to the only leverage in the debate. Absolutely, some boneheaded decisions were made. Those should and can be discussed. But our city's recent past is also littered with boneheaded decisions. Imagine what they might come up if forced to deal with the possibility of a 30-day window.

The only thing I know for sure is that when one government tries to extract extra cash from another, ultimately its the taxpayer that loses.

It think it's time to seriously consider consolidating the two.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 3/29/2008).]
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
I think the fact that the County had failed to pay for services received for... 6 months? more than 6 months?... was the real impetus behind threatening to cut off services. This seems to be a common problem in our society. My power company threatens to turn off my power after non-payment of my bill and yet I haven't resorted to solving that "problem" by installing an expensive, noisy generator in my backyard -- "just in case".

- Dave
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
My power company threatens to turn off my power after non-payment of my bill and yet I haven't resorted to solving that "problem" by installing an expensive, noisy generator in my backyard -- "just in case".

Unfortunately it's not that cut-and-dried in this case. This isn't a case of buyer-seller. The county relies on the city for some things, the city relies on the county for others. I'm guessing there was quite a pissin' match somewhere where the County was overdemanding for it's portions and the city was overdemanding for its own. Like I said, it never should have gotten as far as it did, and the county commissioners played more than their share of the part.

But I hate to sit back and watch the city portrayed as some sort of helpless bystander. There was definitely some growing up that needed to be done on both sides. Hopefully we can learn from it and move on.
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+183) 14 years ago
"Unfortunately it's not that cut-and-dried in this case. This isn't a case of buyer-seller."

In many respects in this particular case, it was. There were services being delivered in good faith that had not been paid for. It was coming to a point where it was having a serious impact on the City's budget and we were faced with a decision:

1) Continue to provide these services with no revenue coming in to support them and run the City's budget into a serious deficit.

2) Stop the budget bleed. Discontinue the services being delivered to the non-paying party.

Each choice was a no-win situation for the City and for the County. Many and repeated attempts (not all of which will be found in the records, there was a lot of behind the scenes efforts to reach some degree of communication) failed to bring the parties to discussions.
The whole point of this dramatic turn of events was to get people back to negotiations. No one, NO ONE, WANTED the situation to result in the actual termination of services and thus putting our neighbors and friends at risk.

Fiscal responsibility on the City's part required that we choose option #2, we are not allowed to spend the City's budget into a deficit "just to be good neighbors".

As things stand today, the City and County were able to reach an agreement that both parties can live with, ~$42K. This number was reached after some hard pencil pushing by the Finance Committee chair and the Fire Department Chief. We (the City) decided that we will ignore the $200K of lost revenues from government paid calls (Medicaid, Medicare, VA) and assume full responsibility for some other charges that arguably should be shared.

The government paid calls are currently at an almost break even figure, with the number of these types of calls increasing yearly. Since they are so close to break even, we don't really lose much in terms of real dollars in the performance of these calls, we just don't produce revenues as an Enterprise funded operation should. The County government will only be assessed their call percentage and their percentage of bad debt calls (calls made but result in noncollectable fees).

The current proposal (agreed to in principle but yet to be presented and accepted by either entity in its final form) calls for a 3 year agreement with a annual percentage increase to account for the increased costs of doing business. It also has an "escape hatch" provision that allows for renegotiations if costs increase/decrease by more than 15%, allowing both parties to review and adjust, if needed. It has been most helpful to have the County Commissioners attending the City Finance Committee meetings where we can present and discuss the City's budgeting processes in detail.

Rick, your statement of 250% markup for negotiation is a bit of a misstatement. The numbers are real and are a representation of the actual budget share for the Ambulance service. What has come about as a result is a figure that the City budget can survive with and that the County budget is willing to accommodate. A large portion of the difficulty is that the Ambulance service is to be run as an Enterprise fund and as such should not be taking loss producing calls. It is also a service that has a mandate to help people in need. You can't predict which calls are going to be low pay, no pay, assistance only or dead ends in advance; you can only determine that after the fact, after the costs have already been incurred.

Eric's previous discussion on why the Ambulance service should not be run as an Enterprise fund is well thought out and worth rereading. The Ambulance service is looking into ways to reduce the non-revenue producing calls (without endangering peoples lives) and to increase the amounts that can be collected from government paid calls in an effort to reduce the budget impact upon the City rate payers (particularly when it comes to government paid calls).

I encourage all people to attend the City Council Finance Committee meetings, especially those where the Interlocal agreement is being discussed. After all, these are our tax dollars and all of us are entitled to be well informed on how they are being spent.

[This message has been edited by Tony Ackerman (edited 3/29/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Tony Ackerman (edited 3/29/2008).]
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
Rick, your statement of 250% markup for negotiation is a bit of a misstatement. The numbers are real and are a representation of the actual budget share for the Ambulance service.

I just don't see it that way. The number that was being asked for (unfairly I believe) in public was 250% of what was eventually accepted. I don't see how that can be argued.

You can say it's all because of City benevolence. But it's interesting that what they paid is essentially 15% of the city's actual cost, which is what it should be. The business of charging the county against your whole budget while keeping the reimbursements for yourself just doesn't fly in my view. If you want the county to pay 15% of the whole budget, they should be given 15% of your reimbursements as well. I believe it was settled fairly in the end. But I don't think the City can really argue that this was arrived at due only to their own sacrifice.
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+183) 14 years ago
Rick, I appreciate your opinion and understand your concern. We could debate the issue here on this forum, but rather than do that I extend the invitation to you to come to the next Finance Committee meeting when we discuss the Interlocal agreement. We can discuss the budgeting process with the Mayor and the Committee chair.

As with any Council meeting, the public is encouraged to attend.
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
Rick, "markup" is defined as the amount over the original amount. So, if a retailer buys widgets for 50 cents and sells them for 1 dollar then the retailer's markup is 100%.

In the case of the ambulance funding the "markup" that $104,000 represented over the prior year's amount, I think, was closer to 150%.

I just sat through the January 15th interlocal agreement public meeting videos that Eric Brandt has made available on his website.

Here are some of the numbers I think I heard in that meeting:

Miles City Fire Department annual budget (07-08): $662,448
Miles City Ambulance Service annual budget (07-08): $801,137

The fire department and ambulance service is staffed with 14 EMT's who are shared on a 65/35 basis such that the Fire Department has 8.6 Full Time Employees (FTE's) and the Ambulance Service 5.4 FTE's.

The Ambulance Service handled 1,000 calls last year, 136 of which were outside of the city limits.

Historical data shows 13%-20% of ambulance calls are routed to outside of the city limits.

This fiscal year the Ambulance Service is projected to have:

$448,950 in revenues
$280,000 in uncollected debt/contractual losses
$352,187 in net losses

Supposedly the City offered in the June/July 2007 timeframe to renew the Interlocal Agreement with regard to ambulance services at 2005-2006 rate plus 5% ($40,955) and the County declined.

Based on the U.S. Census Bureau's population estimates (11,188 Custer County and 8,083 Miles City) 72.25% of Custer County residents reside in Miles City, 27.75% reside outside of Miles City).

City Councilman Mark Ahner indicated that "to date" the Ambulance Service appeared to be (I think he said) $148,000 in the black.

That comment was one of the more confusing aspects of the meeting and is a reflection of how difficult it is to pin down the budgeting numbers. It's very difficult to predict the numbers of calls, the amounts that will be "contractually" priced down, and the amounts that will be uncollected/bad debt.

But, at first glance, I would say that if the County can contract with the City for ambulance service at the rate of $40,955/year the County is probably getting a pretty good deal.

- Dave
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
Well, I'm looking at "markup" as additional money asked for against what I see as the fair price in this situation. When you're fully renegotiating you can't always just tack on whatever percentage you'd like to what was previously paid. That's not really a full negotiation. I've said somewhere around $40k was the fairer price all along. I think the county is getting a "good" deal at $41,000 in that it's fair. I think the city is stretching by trying to paint it as if its a bad deal for them.

The price to the county should be based on volume, not population. The ambulance needs in rural areas are different than in the city. It's the same type of reason we have a city police department and a county sheriff's department. I'm sure many rural residents don't bother calling the ambulance and self-transport. Some may even fall in the service areas of other ambulance services. Not sure exactly.

But even all that is assuming everyone who uses the ambulance service is either a city or county resident. From what I've heard there are numerous cases where the patient is neither. Does the city just assume that every case that isn't a "city" case is the county's obligation? If so, is that "fair?" It seems like there might have been some things the county gave in on as well.
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
Right, Rick, and I don't have kids in public schools so I shouldn't have to pay for public schools. And I never set foot in the library so I shouldn't have to pay for it. Or, I'm young and healthy and don't require ambulance service as much as the elderly folks next door so I should pay less... in fact I've never used an ambulance ever so why should I pay at all? And x% of the ambulance calls are for passersby on the highways who don't reside anywhere in the county. You could go on and on.

I think that the County should chip in 27.75% toward the total ambulance budget and receive 27.75% of ambulance revenues.

- Dave
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
Right, Rick, and I don't have kids in public schools so I shouldn't have to pay for public schools.

Well, that analogy doesn't fit quite right, but let's take it a step further. School districts budget per child attending, not per citizens in the district. I'm sure CCDHS would love to say, "well, we've only got 600 students this year, so instead let's budget based on the total number of people in the county." Unfortunately, they only get funding for those 600 students. Not the other 10,400 people who didn't attend school at all. This is just an analogy, mind you. The funding sources are different, but the principle is the same. The level of funding is determined by utilization, not surrounding population.

But even your 27% with reimbursements offer is far more fair than the one the city was throwing out (publicly anyways). Again, I'm perfectly happy with the compromise that was made. Rehashing all these details isn't really where I wanted to go with this anyway. I just don't think it's fair to say the city was bending over backwards all by itself to make this deal happen. Both sides share the blame and the eventual credit.

I see that some people are still unhappy with the wildland fire situation, but I honestly don't know enough about how that works to know one way or the other. So maybe that's still a sticking point.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 3/30/2008).]
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+850) 14 years ago
Rick,
I have been trying to find the reference to the calculation being based on population percentage as you suggest. This was never my understanding.

It was my understanding that they were basing their decision on actual USAGE averages, not population distribution. This makes the argument and the analogy moot.

The Mayor provided a breakdown of the contract here:

http://www.milescity.com/...id=4238#37

In summary, the City provides average usage figures over the past years as falling between 13% and 20%. This is far short of 27%

The argument becomes: Which figure gets multiplied to determine the County's fair share?

If the total budget figure of ~$800K is used, the figure would range from $104K..$160K. As David points out, if this is the figure used, then a rebate back to the county based on actual realized revenue would be fair at the end of the budget cycle.

If the LOSS figure of ~$280K is used, then the range would fall between $36K..$56K. In this case, the $41K is within range, albeit low.

If the figure of "The ambulance is in the black" is used (i.e. there is no loss) then the range should fall somewhere between $0K..$0K.

I would refer you to this thread:

http://www.milescity.com/...id=4238#21

I discuss the follies of administrations past regarding mis-distribution of ambulance labor costs. It is this distribution that has created much of this problem.

This issue really has nothing to do with anything, in reality. Why? Well, because the City over the past 2 years has slowly been "correcting" the distribution to restore it to a more accurate figure. This is not a process which can be turned on and off without creating other problems. I suspect that by next year the distribution will be restored. This will reveal an ambulance operating at a loss and requiring tax subsidy. This will demonstrate the City's need for County funds.

The City initially based their request on the total budget, and adjusted their position when the error was presented. The unfortunate thing about this is that the Commissioners did not present the error. They are on record saying they have not even looked at a budget. This is the crux of the issue right here.

While the City may have acted in error (on that one figure), the negotiating party never acted at all. Without so much as visiting the departments in question, they simply refused the negotiations (read the published documents on http://www.milescityvoice.com) and presented all sorts of non-germane arguments. They shot from the hip without even researching the services. Had they taken the time to visit these figures in detail, they could have understood not only the initial error, but also their actual "Fair Share". Their lack of initiative was a gross and very costly disservice to the public.

To create an analogy for you, this would be like getting up in the morning and cracking open a milk container over the pan because you wanted a fried egg. Obviously, your failure to evaluate what you were working with would result in you not having a fried egg, but rather a big mess.

Most of us would learn the first time we created a milk spill. Sadly, this cacophony of "Fire Away" has been, and I suspect will be, repeated over and over and over again with this regime.

More example to share later.

Eric
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
Actually, Eric, I was the one who suggested that the ambulance tax subsidy (if needed) be distributed equally amongst the Custer County population.

I look at subsidizing an ambulance service as being like buying an insurance policy.

The way I see it is any one person in the county -- whether they live within the city limits or not -- is equally likely to need an ambulance at any given point in time. Everyone hopes they never need it but they are sure glad it's there when they do. If people only pay when they need it, then the ambulance business doesn't make it. If homeowners only pay for homeowners insurance when they have a claim, then the insurance company folds.

Looking at where calls are dispatched to doesn't necessarily paint an accurate picture... for instance an out-of-city resident may work in the city and so if the ambulance is dispatched to their workplace (in the city) does that mean it's a "city call"? Similarly a city resident traveling down icy I-94 may have an accident outside the city limits.

Some people engage in more risky behaviors so they may be more likely to need an ambulance. Some people spend their winters in Arizona, so they may only need an ambulance in Custer County 8 months out of the year.

This is why I feel that the fairest way to distribute the burden of the ambulance tax subsidy is equally amongst all county residents. It works out to a better deal for some than others (and not just based on in-the-city or out-of-the-city criteria) but overall, at ~$32 per year per person it should be worth it to each and every one.

- Dave
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
Rick, I applaud your attempt to try and make some logical sense out of this whole mess. In this entire discussion, what is missing is a fruitful dialogue about trying to control the "gorilla" in the city budget, namely public safety. A concerned citizen pointed out that about 64% of the city budget goes for public safety (both fire and police), which to him was way out of line as to where the monies should be going.

About 15 years ago, following an audit of the city's finances,the auditor enclosed a letter expressing his concern that if the Miles City Fire Department Ambulance service kept going in the direction it was going, it would bankrupt the city. I believe George Kurkowski was mayor at that time. And now Eric states "this will reveal an ambulance operating at a loss and requiring tax subsidy. This will demonstrate the city's need for County funds."

In a previous thread concerning the MCFD and its ambulance service, a writer mentioned that the MCFD union, in its benevolence in trying to control costs, agreed to having time and a half for the first hour(when called in for overtime) and take regular pay for any extra time after that, for that incident. This sounds great. I caution you that the city is on a slippery slope. One only has to look at what happened in Billings 8 years ago. Seventeen disgruntled firefighters sued for overtime wages that the city failed to pay them from 1995-2000 for any hours worked over 40 per week. The city owes the firefighters $4,278,936. The lawsuit was settled this past November, taking 8 years to finish as it was taken as far as the Montana Supreme Court and finally back to the District Court. One of the fall outs is that the city cannot even afford to operate a very expensive ($500,000) seven story ladder truck and so that will be stored away and used only in a very absolute emergency. The fire fighters also voted a no confidence in their fire chief because of his decision to cut the ladder truck from the budge. (Taken from Montan's News Station.com)

A strident chorus heard in this thread has been the cry for change. I am going to suggest a change, but it is going to be a totally different direction from the one that most of the writers have expressed here and will be met with much resistance in some quarters.

Custer County has a population of a little over 11,000, with the bulk in Miles City. Sorry folks, you cannot continue to pay out several million dollars for public safety (including both the county and city budgets) without impacting every other part of the budgets that makes for a well maintained community/county. So, here is my suggestion for change which means both the city and county are going to have to make decision to combine those major services that are chewing up monies in both areas.

The city needs to get rid of the ambulance service. Negotiate with HRHC to run it as part of their medical services. If they don't want it, I can venture there are some Miles City EMT's, with a sense of the entrepreneur, who would also negotiate with the city. Than the city needs to restructure the fire department and in mutual cooperation with the county, form a Miles City/Custer County Fire District. There should only be two-four full time positions and the rest would be with volunteers. These postions would be advertised and filled with the best applicants.

And please, do not mock those people who are your volunteers in those departments. I have lived under both scenarios and find the volunteers are very professional and proficient and very altruistic.

And than, why stop there. Continue with combining services: law enforcement, the city and county JP, and any other duplication of services that can be administered under both county and city. A mutual cooperation will be welcomed by all of Custer County taxpayers and a win-win situation for them.

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/31/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/31/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 3/31/2008).]
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Posted by City County Resident (+54) 14 years ago
I think the fact that the County had failed to pay for services received for... 6 months? more than 6 months?... was the real impetus behind threatening to cut off services.

So, using that line of logic, it would then be permissible for the county to give the city a 30-day notice that city prisoners would no longer be accepted in the county jail, as the city doesn't pay (and never has paid) booking fees to the county, nor does the county recover any of the court settlements the city hungrily gobbles up for those prisoners. Yet the county financially assumes all the costs, including medical care, for the city prisoners. That's a fair deal.
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Posted by City County Resident (+54) 14 years ago
Mary, with regards to your "combining services" post--a hearty amen to your thoughtfulness! That is the change we need. I believe the good citizens of Miles City spoke to that need when we voted down the Safety Levy. We cannot continue to provide Cadillac services on a Pinto budget. We may have the best fire/ambulance equipment in the state, and the best trained staff, but if we don't have the infrastructure to get the water to the fire, a heck of a lot of good it does us. We're overstaffed and underfunded.
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3718) 14 years ago
A reasonable argument, but is the solution for the county to duplicate services that the city has already established (perhaps too expensively)? It seems to me that the comissioners may have a reasonable complaint about the cost of services from the city, but right now they are cutting off their nose to spite their face.
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Posted by LG (+201) 14 years ago
[This message has been edited by LG (edited 3/31/2008).]
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Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
CCR, apparently Montana State Code (MCA) makes it clear that the county is responsible for the costs of detaining prisoners charged with infractions of State Law and, frankly, I think that any sensibly run municipality in the state would charge first under MCA and only charge under city ordinances if there is no other option. I don't know it for a fact but I suspect this is business as usual throughout Montana.

Remember, 100% of Miles City residents are county residents and pay taxes to the County (and probably 90% or more of county residents live within 4 miles of the city limits) so it's not like Miles Citians are not helping pay for the county jail.

- Dave

http://data.opi.mt.gov/bi...2-2242.htm

7-32-2242. Use of detention center -- payment of costs. (1) Local government, state, and federal law enforcement and correctional agencies may use any detention center for the confinement of arrested persons and the punishment of offenders, under conditions imposed by law and with the consent of the governing body responsible for the detention center.
(2) (a) If a person is confined in a detention center by an arresting agency not responsible for the operation of the detention center, the costs of holding the person in confinement must be paid by the arresting agency at a rate that is agreed upon by the arresting agency and the detention center and that covers the reasonable costs of confinement, excluding capital construction costs, except as provided in 7-32-2245 or subsection (2)(b) of this section.
(b) If a city or town commits a person to the detention center of the county in which the city or town is located for a reason other than detention pending trial for or detention for service of a sentence for violating an ordinance of that city or town, the costs must be paid by the county, except as provided in 7-32-2245. If the department of corrections is the arresting agency and the inmate is a probation violator, the costs must be paid by the county in which the district court that retains jurisdiction over the inmate is located, except as provided in 7-32-2245.
(c) Payments must be made to the government unit responsible for the detention center or to the administrator operating a private detention center under an agreement provided for in 7-32-2201, upon presentation of a claim to the arresting agency.
(3) If a person is a fugitive from justice from an out-of-state jurisdiction, the costs, including medical expenses, of holding the person in a detention center pending extradition must be paid by the out-of-state jurisdiction.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11898) 14 years ago
I was forming a reply about private, for profit, ambulance services and then thought, what the heck. No amount of facts is going to change anyone's opinion. If you hate the fire department, nothing I say, or anyone else says, will change your mind. Fireism is like racism. Logic doesn't come into the discussion.

So. . .I want to direct this discussion back to why I started it.

GHOST BUSTING, people! Surely there are some slimers around town that need nuclear power to contain! Who wants to join my team?!?!?!?!?

[This message has been edited by Amorette Allison (edited 3/31/2008).]
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Posted by Van (+563) 14 years ago
Mary,

I seem to recall that you campaigned on putting the breaks on the Miles City Fire Department. What happened? Or did you just see the error of your ways.

Combining forces- AKA consolidation.
If that were to happen the Fire department would move from a class II department to a class I department. This would entiltle the department to automatically hire more employees and thus be even bigger. Ah, maybe that is why City/County consolidation was being trumpeted by the fire department a decade ago.

MCA-7-1-4111. Classification of municipalities. (1) Every city having a population of 10,000 or more is a city of the first class.
(2) Every city having a population of less than 10,000 and more than 5,000 is a city of the second class.
(3) Every city having a population of less than 5,000 and more than 1,000 is a city of the third class.
(4) Every municipal corporation having a population of less than 1,000 and more than 300 is a town.


7-3-1248. Departments of consolidated municipality. (1) (a) In consolidated municipalities of the first, second, third, or fourth class, there shall be a department of finance, a police department, a department of public works, a department of health, a fire department, and such other departments and offices as may be established by ordinance.
(b) In consolidated municipalities of the fifth, sixth, or seventh class, there shall be a department of finance, a police department, a department of public works, a department of health, and such other departments and offices as may be established by ordinance.

7-33-4128. Minimum wages of firefighters in cities of first and second class. After July 1, 1976, there shall be paid to each duly appointed and confirmed member of the fire departments of cities or towns of the first and second class of the state a minimum wage for a daily service of 8 consecutive hours of work of at least $750 per month for the first year of service and thereafter at least $750 per month plus 1% of said minimum base monthly salary for each additional year of service.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
A reasonable argument, but is the solution for the county to duplicate services that the city has already established (perhaps too expensively)? It seems to me that the comissioners may have a reasonable complaint about the cost of services from the city, but right now they are cutting off their nose to spite their face.

That's pretty much my impression of the whole thing as well. It would have been tough though to determine how far the county had to go to let the city know they were serious about other alternatives. I think the county probably pushed it farther than they had to. And they did a horrible job procedurally in documenting and explaining their actions.

But on the other side, the city's terms seemed less than accomodating. There's no telling what actions short of the county planning for a split would have brought the city's demands down to reason. You can argue with the county's methods, but in the end, it did work. A $48,000 ambulance doesn't look so foolish when you look at the extra $60k+ they might have been paying otherwise (likely each and every year)

Anyways, at some point it seemed to become more about personalities than the actual terms of the agreement.

The City initially based their request on the total budget, and adjusted their position when the error was presented. The unfortunate thing about this is that the Commissioners did not present the error.

Eric, as you could probably guess, it doesn't really matter to me who presented the "error" Even when I mentioned it in that other thread, city officials defended it. That couldn't have been the first time it came up. And even since then, I've never heard anyone from the city acknowledge it as an "error." I've only heard justifications, or claims that it was only resolved through the city's own self-sacrifice.

To me it looks like the city might be blaming the commissioners for some of their own mistakes. I don't think it's productive or neccessary, considering the problems the commisioners already have on many other issues. Now that the agreement is settled, let's hope the two groups can learn to work together. We need their efforts well-coordinated to get Miles City and CC on the right footing for the future.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 4/1/2008).]
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+850) 14 years ago
Rick,
I'm not sure the issue is settled. The chain of events and peripheral actions taken paint a very clear picture to me that the County has very deliberately planned these actions. The story is deeper than most have time to discuss.

The issue is clearly NOT over, or they would not have purchased an over-priced ambulance. There are only two things you can do with an ambulance: 1. NOTHING, in which case the purchase was a gross lack in judgment (which considering the total lack of documentation and the fact that at least one commissioner doesn't remember doing it exemplifies the statement) or 2. STAFF IT at a considerably higher cost than was requested (which exemplifies the first reason) and so on...

Furthermore, considering the current lack of research as exemplified over and over again, it would seem a logical conclusion that this will simply repeat itself. They have a 12-step program for this behavior - it's called on-and-on-and-on-anon. If in 18 months the Commissioners could not look at a budget, and then contrary to significant public outcry could still forget they ordered a $48,000 ambulance, there is no way the issue is over.

And finally, this is already the time of year to be discussing the 2008-2009 budget. If the County only signed this agreement because they felt duress, then I suppose their ambulance will be a great bargaining tool and delay factor in "negotiating" the next budget. At the end of the day, the Commissioners are still not fully funding entities like the Library (another budget they were unwilling to examine before making an important decision). The fun has yet to begin, I think. Only time will tell.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+850) 14 years ago
"In this entire discussion, what is missing is a fruitful dialogue about trying to control the "gorilla" in the city budget, namely public safety. A concerned citizen pointed out that about 64% of the city budget goes for public safety (both fire and police)" - Mary Q (Supposedly :rolleyes

What portion of the budget should go to public safety?

What do you expect City Government to do with their money?


What is the Fundamental purpose of government?

Surely, no one would argue this source:
"The fundamental purpose of government is the maintenance of basic security and public order - without which individuals cannot attempt to find happiness. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes figured that people, as rational animals, saw submission to a government dominated by a sovereign as preferable to anarchy. People in a community create and submit to government for the purpose of establishing for themselves, safety and public order." - Wikipedia

Ok, the source may be debatable for some subjects, but this particular quote is difficult to argue considering the sheer lack of governments worldwide NOT expected to provide exactly that.

If the fundamental purpose of government is to protect, then is 64% of the budget for safety out of line?

Perhaps someone would provide the City's budget online for everyone to review? I could provide the County budget in excel format. Any takers?
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 14 years ago
Judging from the other thread, we should be spending more on the Glendive defense budget.
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Posted by Mary Quintus (+57) 14 years ago
This is going to be my last comment on this thread.

Van, in response to your question, I was on the city council, I resigned last summer to move back to ND to be closer to family and children due to personal concerns. Tony Ackerman is now the council person who took my place.

So why did I jump into the fray. I left behind a lot of good friends and personal acquaintances as well as constituants who love Mile City/Custer County and want to see positive improvements in the running of the governing bodies as well as judicious use of the monies coming to their budgets. What also concerned me in these threads is the sense of fear that some people expressed, especially if it was against the prevailing vocal majority i.e. Town Hall meeting. Even in these threads, those who expressed a support of the County Commissioners were "shouted down".

Yes, the Montana Annotated Code does say the communities and counties have an obligation for safety and security. It does not give specific directives except in the case of having a county sheriff who is an elected official. It is up to the administrating bodies and the voters of those entities to decide how it will be done.

I am now residing in a small community which has an all volunteer fire department and ambulance service. Security is provided by a contract with the county Sheriff's department and so we have a (one) deputy sheriff living here who keeps law and order. This is a common practice in small communities around here as it is difficult to find someone who wants to have the headaches of being the singular "town cop".

Do I feel insecure because I am living amongst only "volunteer" and contracted safety personal? No. I have lived most of my life in those sort of arrangements and find it very adequate. Also, having lived on a farm/ranching operation for many years, in an emergency, we went for help. We didn't wait for help to come to us. And, oh yes, there were situations when the person could not go and get help and the emergency vehicles were called out. More often where it was an incident with farm machinery etc., it became more of a recovery than a rescue. I personally knew a young man who farmed near us and was trapped in the power drive of his round bailer. A fire that started due to the friction in the straw pretty much consumed his body. And I could go on about the dangers of farming and ranching and other people I knew of or heard of who were injured or killed, but that was a part of life. Farmers/ranchers are known to be a very self-reliant bunch.

I am going to give an example of two small cities in ND who provide all the services that Miles City provides, but in a more prudent manner. Both Dickinson and Mandan (which are each about twice the size of Miles City) have, at the most) four full time fire personal including the chief and assistant, the rest is comprised of volunteers. The ambulance service in Mandan is a metro. I do not know what Dickinson has (I would venture it is also a private entitiy) Both Dickinson and Mandan have not burned down to the ground because they have mainly volunteers. In fact, they are well kept and clean communities as well as progressive.

The costs for maintaining these services are only going to go up. Check the gas pumps lately? And soon it will be more like 70% or more of the budget being allocated for these services and less for the improving the city where there is a lot of improving that needs to be done. There are eye-sores that are neglected with a lot of hand ringing over "what can we do" and nothing gets done. Here, in this small community where I am now living, last summer the city council listened to complaints about several bits of property that were run down and considered a public nuisance. The council wrote letters to the property owners who had to appear before the city. These owners were told to make progress in the improvement of said property or face demolition. One of those buildings was demolished several weeks later due to lack of response by the owner. And I must say, that bit of property didn't strike me as any worse than some of the properties still standing in MC. And so I could go on.

A pride in one's community can only take place when people see they have a say in how the monies are being used in its improvements. When the bulk of it goes for something that is not tangible, than people no longer care and you start having "ghetto" like areas and urban blight cropping up. Miles City has both. I would like to remember it for the beauty that I saw. It is the blight that needs to be taken care of and it takes money and the will to accomplish that.

And both the city and county have their share of "mea culpas" in the expenditure departments and it is time for all of the people to come together, stop their bickering as well as finger pointing, and look at better ways of utilizing those limited funds that come into the city and the county. And remember folks, the voters did not approve the safety levy when it was put on the ballot several years ago. The common thread there was because they (the voters) felt too much was already going into that part of the budget.

And that is the end of my sermon.

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 4/2/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Mary Quintus (edited 4/2/2008).]
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founder
Posted by David Schott (+17424) 14 years ago
Regarding Mary's input with respect to North Dakota. I'm not going to spend time on Mandan because (it's been 20 years since I was last there) it seems like Mandan is more of a suburb of the Bismarck metropolitan area and not a good comparison to Miles City.

Looking at Dickinson:

City of Dickinson population: 15,636
City of Dickinson website: http://www.dickinsongov.com/

Stark County population: 22,458
Stark County website: https://mylocalgov.com/st...?section=1

City of Dickinson budget general fund: $7,707,801
-- Police: $2,445,583
-- Fire: $ 371,707
-- Total Public Safety: $2,817,290

Dickinson Police Department Website: http://www.dickinsonpd.com

Dickinson Fire Department Website: http://www.dickinsonfire.com

Dickinson apparently has a private ambulance service that is staffed by 16 EMT's of various levels (6 EMT-Paramedics).

Dickinson ambulance service website: http://www.dickinsonambulance.com

Of Dickinson's annual general fund budget, here are some of the biggest sources of revenue:

Property Taxes: $2,966,400
Highway Distribution Tax: $733,000
State Aid Distribution: $576,286
(N.D. State Sales Tax)
Transfer from Sales Tax II: $538,925
Transfer from Sales Tax III: $330,000
Oil and Gas Production: $320,475
Municipal Court Fines: $250,000
Leases, Easements, Royalties: $220,000

http://www.dickinsongov.c...3F6%7D.PDF
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supporter
Posted by Van (+563) 14 years ago
Mary,

It appears that you and I are on the same page. Thank you for your well thought out responses.

Good stuff David.
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Posted by City County Resident (+54) 13 years ago
"Eric is busy moving into his new apartment so he can run for commissioner...he didn't live in the right precinct."
In keeping with the common theme on this website, I retract this statement. It was based on an observation that led to a mistaken assumption: generally when you see someone moving a mattress into a residence, the act equates with "moving".
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supporter
Posted by Buck Showalter (+4454) 13 years ago
The common theme of you retracting all the BS you said? You are a funny, funny woman. Everyone is fully aware of who you are and you still hide behind your handle and attempt to speak in legalese.

[This message has been edited by Buck Showalter (edited 6/11/2008).]
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supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15076) 13 years ago
She sounds pretty normal to me for a school psychologist. At least she is trying to make amends. Maybe we should cut her some slack.

[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 6/11/2008).]
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supporter
Posted by Buck Showalter (+4454) 13 years ago
It's still pretty weird. I mean, if you think about it, really, really weird. First it's just sniping at Eric on a website (no biggy, everbody does it (c'mon man, just do it)). Somewhere along the line Eric is taking pictures of front lawns and looking in phonebooks (who does that?) Now CCR is apologizing (maybe, sorta, in a way that says, "Whatever I just said here, it doesn't count anymore, don't sue me") for observing things, I assume (assuming means I can say stuff that isn't true, but it's okay, since I don't know if what I'm saying isn't true) were observed in the following manner:



It's totally weird and totally Miles City and totally awesome. WOO!!! GO MILES CITY, GO MILES CITY DOT COM!!! GLENDIVE SUCKS!!! WOO!!!
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Posted by Brian (+354) 13 years ago
[This message has been edited by Brian (edited 6/12/2008).]
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+850) 13 years ago
Ms. G:

It is important to me that I research things before I speak. I try to be accurate and have facts to support my position before I post. I also post under my real name, making me accountable for my words - like it or not.

I seems to me that now you are being held accountable, you wish to retract your words. Unfortunately, you failed to do your homework before posting; posted lies under an assumed identity; and failed to make an appropriate apology once exposed. Considering all this, your retraction is meaningless to me. What purpose does the retraction serve? Does it absolve you from your just deserve? Can a murderer "retract" his crime? By retracting a lie, all one does is is confirm he is a liar.

"see someone moving a mattress INTO A RESIDENCE the act equates moving." - I suggest you never actually saw me moving in the first place and are commenting on third-person gossip. If you had "seen me moving a mattress into a residence" you would have known: a) my address (clearly inside the district); and b) the fact that I was moving a mattress INTO a HOUSE - not an apartment. I think it is more likely that Jack saw me moving my mattress OUT of storage behind my store, and related this to you. (The commissioner's office has a reasonably clear view of the goings-on behind my store.)

Finally, does the act equate "moving" per se? Moving as in changing ones residence? Or moving as is the most basic sense of the verb: to change location? The only thing seeing someone moving a mattress equates to is that someone is changing the location of a mattress - nothing more. You have to do more research to uncover the whole story.

I find it curious that you now discharge your statements as "mistaken assumptions". Your lack of research on issues before taking action is curiously similar to the commissioners failure in the same regard. To quote Jack Nesbit - "One of my strengths is gathering information." - hmmm. Curious indeed.
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