February 15, 2019 Public Meeting on HB403
Present were: Monty Sealey, Stan Pisle, Sandra Jones, Jim Schladweiler, Dave Picchioni, Jay Eliasson, Sue Olson, Joe H. Stahl, Bruce Hoiland, Gary H. Eliasson, Dave Ponte, Dale Rittierodt, Floyd R. Fisher, Shawn Dutton, Zach Bymaster, Tom Stockert, Derin Gebhardt, Amy Angel, Derrick Angel, Dave Liggett, Pam Liggett, J. K. Kuzara, Troy Evans, Mary Rose Beasley, Barb Halverson, Evan Fritz, Kelly Gebhardt, Bonnie DeMaio, Commissioner Borner, Commissioner Berry and Commissioner Carlson.
Commissioner Borner welcomed everyone for coming and made sure they all had the print outs to read over. There was a Coal Gross Proceeds Worksheet, Fiscal Note 2021 Biennium Fiscal Summary and House Bill403 introduced by Barry Usher. Any questions or comments.
Ms. Beasley had an e-mail from Barry Usher that was read with the pros and cons of the Bill. (available for review at the Clerk & Recorders office)
Mayor Sandra Jones read a letter(available for review in the Clerk & Recorders office) that said she is in support of the Bill and reminded everyone that Signal Peak has invested in the community in many ways.
Sue Olson said that she is in support of the bill and said that the mine has many other taxes that they have had to pay.
Dave Ponte said that any tax breaks the government gives is a bad road to get started on. At the end of the meeting Mr. Ponte said that he is unsure of his decision.
Shawn Dutton asked if the county has seen the numbers for the mine. Commissioner Borner said no.
Mary Rose Beasley said her business never received and abatement and she would like to see the mines numbers to see if it is a legitimate concern. If they do get an abatement they need to pay more. At the end of the meeting Ms. Beasley was unsure of her decision.
- K. Kuzara said that the County should not rely on the taxation of the mine because it is going to close someday. At the end of the meeting Mr. Kuzara is in support of the Bill.
Derrick Angel said that if the mine stays open 1% isn’t going to matter if they are feasibly stable. At the end of the meeting Mr. Angel is in favor of a compromise with the mine.
Commissioner Carlson said that he would like to see a compromise.
Bruce Hoiland had a letter he read (available for review at the Clerk & Recorders office) in support of the Bill to keep men and women working.
Dave Picchioni said that the Signal Peak Community Foundation has done a lot for the County and is in support of the Bill as long as the foundation is funded.
Commissioner Berry said that Alan Olson said he talked to the owner of the mine Matt Evans and Mr. Evans said that they will fund the foundation “if’ they had the money but could not put it in writing. Last time they said they would fund it. Now it is an if.
Troy Evans said that the foundation is a good thing but it’s important to the community to get the big money instead of the little. At the end of the meeting Mr. Evans was unsure of his decision on the Bill.
Jim Schladweiler asked Accounting Supervisor Angel if the County’s capital improvement funds can be moved around. Ms. Angel said the road Department, ambulance, cemetery and fire stay in their own capital improvement fund. Mr. Schladweiler asked what the school plans if not approved. Ms. Angel said that the school taxes are different and they will see an immediate relief without the abatement. Mr. Schladweiler said that the Commissioners need to start planning ahead and how we will survive when the mine closes. At the end of the meeting Mr. Schladweiler is against the abatement.
Gary Eliasson is in favor of the abatement but would like a compromise so the County can get more than we have been getting. If there is another meeting Mr. Eliasson thinks someone from the mine should be present. Commissioner Borner said that they will extend the invitation.
Kelly Gebhardt said that they could offer an amendment at the first meeting of every level and a Senator has to ask on the Senate floor. Mr. Gebhardt said that there is one billion dollars in the permanent coal fund for future use. When does the future start? They need to put a cap on that. At the end of the meeting Mr. Gebhardt was in support of the abatement.
Monty Sealey said that if the mine closes what will happen to Musselshell County? The abatement needs to happen, we need to support the mine.
Evan Fritz said that he thinks that if the mine can survive without the abatement, they should not have it but that compromise is good. At the end of the meeting Mr. Fritz was unsure of his decision on the bill.
Derin Gebhardt said that we need to take into consideration the challenges that the mine has. They are competing globally, with politicians and the EPA. It’s very expensive to do what they do but they are paying high wages. It’s better to have people getting a good wage. Mr. Gebhardt is in favor of the bill. And thanked the Commissioners.
Commissioner Borner said she would like to come to an agreement on what the community needs. Ms. Borner said she doesn’t know if she is right or wrong but she sees 10 million dollars lost that maybe could have been put somewhere else. She looks at the $200,000.00 from the foundation or 1 million in taxes a year. Ms. Borner said that she is against Bill but not the abatement and would testify to the Legislature as to the needs of the County infrastructure. Ms. Borner said that she has learned a lot today.
Mayor Jones asked where the other Commissioners stand on the Bill?
Commissioner Carlson said that he is gathering more information. He thinks that compromise is good but he wants to know what the public wants and will remain neutral and see if a compromise is beneficial. He is interested in a larger public meeting.
Commissioner Berry said that he did not carry the bill 10 years ago and was persecuted and is not going to make a stand for himself. He will go for what the people want.
The Commissioners thanked everyone for coming.
Stan Pisel is in favor of the bill
Joe H. Stahl is in favor of the bill.
Tom Stockert is unsure of his decision on the bill.
Dave Liggett is in favor of the bill.
Pam Liggett is in favor of the bill with a compromise.
Barb Halvorson is unsure of her decision on the bill.
Bonnie DeMaio is against the bill.
Last modified: March 6, 2019