JWiener at ci.missoula.mt.us
Wed Feb 12 23:28:13 CST 2014
We had about five hours of committee meetings today though they were mostly deep-dives on a couple of subjects so there isn't a great deal of ground to cover.
In Public Safety and Health, we consider the police department's lease for new office space at the northeast corner of Ryman and Pine streets. In addition to providing some needed office space, the new space will allow the PD to further our compliance with the DOJ agreement but providing some specialized response to sexual and intimate partner/family member violence. The new space won't meet needs for training facilities and evidence storage so those items will still be coming.
Also in PSH, and for most of the time there, we talked about whether to grant a business license to Medstar Northwest as a second ambulance service. We have to review licenses for ambulance services to see if they are in the public interest and that interest is disputed here. Medstar is taking over air ambulance service from Lifeflight as of April 2 this year so the helicopters will no longer be a program of the hospitals. Medstar also provides ground service and the question was whether they would be doing so for trips in town that leave for the airport or go from one hospital to another. These ground transport routes have better reimbursement than 911 calls and so both services want a crack at them. Without a business license, none of the trips could be taken by Medstar if they originated in town so that is why they are asking. MESI, the current ambulance service, is none too happy to see these routes cherry-picked by a new provider while MESI continues to provide 911 service. Medstar claims that the air ambulance service doesn't pencil if they can't do the ground transport. No one provided financials to back up either claim though Medstar points to the failure of the current air ambulance to sustain itself as proof they need the additional routes. We didn't take any action today but will continue with the item on March 6, asking Fire Chief Diehl to try and negotiate something so we aren't taking a scalpel to the baby.
In A&F, we met briefly with Grants staff about taking some money out of a homebuyer assistance program to reserve it for other uses allowed with HOME funds (basically the provision of housing). The assistance program is part of the Human Resource District Council and it has a healthly balance in a revolving loan fund they use (it has something like a 1% rate of failure to repay which is great performance) and so we are reprogramming the local money with their agreement. One of those projects, which will be coming back in April for more information is units of permanent supportive housing for the hardest-to-house that is Western Montana Mental Health Center project. We need this kind of housing badly and I am very pleased the project is proceeding.
In COW, we spent about two hours holding a workshop on the acquisition of Mountain Water. We covered in detail topics from the history of negotiation with Carlyle to valuation of the enterprise as well as financing the deal, eminent domain as it applies here and a review of the reasons why public ownership of the water system is good financial sense and the most sustainable, secure path for the city. The presentation and discussion don't lend themselves well to summary; there is a lot of detail in there to be seen and heard and, if you listen to just one committee meeting this year, this might be the one to do so.
The presentation slides as well as detailed memos on valuation, progress to date and the benefits of municipal ownership are posted here as the bottom four items if you can't bring yourself to listen to the whole meeting (even the first hour would be a lot of information to consume): http://missoula.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/agdocs.aspx?doctype=agenda&itemid=16563\
The video is posted here: http://missoula.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=762&doctype=AGENDA
COW spent hour three with representatives of the school district discussing their long-term facilities planning. They have evaluated each piece of land and building they own for viability as a structure itself and for its place in the community as evaluated by demographics and the type of district we want to be. It is an admirable effort with enough to inspire anyone and propose something to make you uneasy but it has vision and, given the way they have structured input on specific facilities with interests groups focused on those institutions, I think it will have a large number of constituent groups who buy into the larger vision. A number of proposals focus on land that interacts with other public land, primarily city parks and open space. In the second half of this year, after the school board has input, the city will need to carefully consider what sort of collaboration we can manage with the school's planning. The full range of options for each property is posted here -- http://mcpsmt.org/Page/6905 -- and anyone with questions not answered by the website can contact MCPS Director of Technology and Communication Hatton Littman: hlittman at mcps.k12.mt.us<mailto:hlittman at mcps.k12.mt.us>
Thanks for your interest.
Jason Wiener, Alderman, Ward One
1122 Jackson St.
Missoula, MT 59802
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