10 W Fallon Ave Baker, MT 59313
Fallon County of Montana

EMEDA Commissioner Meeting – Special Meeting Minutes August 22nd 2022

EMEDA Commissioner Meeting – Special Meeting Minutes August 22nd 2022

EMEDA Eastern Montana Economic Development Authority

Commissioner Special Meeting Minutes

August 22, 2022 at 6:30pm

SMART Conference Room

Meeting called to order at 6:32pm by Chairman Steve Zachmann

Members Present:  Chairman Steve Zachmann, Treasurer Karol Zachmann, Commissioner Janet “Cookie” Zenko, Commissioner Melissa Higbee, Commissioner Tasha Losing

Members Absent:  Vice President Carson Beach

Staff Present:  Executive Director Vaughn Zenko Jr., SMART Assistant Shannon Johnson

Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person): No public comment

Old Business: 

               Resubmittal of Baker Bowling Center Façade Improvement Grant:  After receiving word of the FIG funds awarded, the Baker Bowling Center changed their project plans. Specifically, the lift that had been included in the gutter project was also necessary for the painting. When the gutters were rejected as not qualifying, the lift rental was still necessary. In addition, an internal review of the FIG paperwork showed that sidewalk repair in included in the grant guidelines. The new total grant is now $7,094.92 for the Baker Bowling Center Façade Improvement Project. Tasha motioned to accept the resubmitted grant. Cookie seconded. All in favor, one absent, motion carried.

New Business:  

               Decision on preferred election date for Mill Levy request Child Care Project:  Vaughn informed the Commissioners that May 7, 2024 special election was the earliest date EMEDA could get the mill levy on a ballot. The June 4 primary election or the general election in November 2024 are other options.

6:45 pm Vice-Chairman Carson Beach joined the meeting via phone
Commissioner Zachmann got Carson up to date on what actions had already been taken

Decision on preferred election date for Mill Levy request Child Care Project (Continued): After some discussion on the pros and cons of each election date, Cookie motioned that EMEDA propose the Mill Levy Election for June 4, 2024. Tasha seconded. All in favor, motion carried. Vaughn will contact Dorsey & Whitney to prepare the Mill Levy request to be presented to the County.

               Proposal by Fallon County to support Baker Chamber Rec Department through EMEDA:  Director Zenko explained to the board that the Fallon County Commissioners had approached EMEDA about a proposal to provide $16,000 to EMEDA, with the understanding that EMEDA would then donate the entirety of those funds to help support operations of the Baker Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture Rec Department. He explained that the County had supported the Rec in the past, but now that it is under the Chamber umbrella, the County cannot donate directly to a private business, so working through EMEDA would be the preferred option.
Chairman Zachmann explained that he had looked into this proposal and contacted the State as to its legality and was informed that such an arrangement was definitely in the scope of a Port Authority’s powers and obligations.
Chairman Zachmann requested a motion on the County’s proposal so that discussion may commence.

Cookie motioned to approve the County’s proposal and provide $16,000 to the Baker Chamber Rec Department. Karol seconded. Chairman Zachmann opened discussion. Tasha asked if the money goes directly to the Rec or if it is actually going to the Chamber to do as they please. Melissa explained that the Rec has a separate checking account for all of it’s expenses, including paying the Rec Director’s salary as well as half of the Chamber Director’s salary, and that all money specified for the Rec goes directly into the Department’s account. Carson questioned if this arrangement is beyond the scope of what the Commissioners are allowed to do. Steve assured him that his inquiries on that show that it is within the power of the County and a Port Authority to enter into this arrangement. Carson suggested that, if EMEDA accepts the agreement, EMEDA make a recommendation that the County reclaim the Rec Department as a County Department, funded through Fallon County. Melissa stated that if the County were to retake the Rec, the Chamber of Commerce would not have enough funds to operate.

7:27pm Commissioner Tasha Losing left the meeting and joined via phone

Proposal by Fallon County to support Baker Chamber Rec Department through EMEDA (continued):
Chairman Zachmann stated that the discussion had gone beyond the scope of the original motion and that the only question is whether to accept the County’s proposed agreement, and that approval of how the Baker Chamber operates the Rec Department is not EMEDA’s concern.  Chairman Zachmann closed discussion and called for a vote. Melissa recused herself from the vote, as she is the Director of the Chamber. Vaughn asked if Karol needs to recuse herself as well, as a Chamber Board Member. Chairman Zachmann said that because this vote does not affect Karol personally or financially, she does not need to recuse herself.  Call for a vote: Two Aye, Two Nay, One Recused. Chairman Zachmann voted Aye to break the tie. Motion carries. Once provided by Fallon County, EMEDA will agree to distribute the funds to the Chamber Rec Department, contingent upon receiving an official request from the County and a copy of the Commissioner’s minutes noting their approval of the arrangement.
Carson noted that this is a dangerous path of habit and that he believes the County is overstepping its bounds and taxpayers are footing the bill. Steve said that is not correct in this instance.

Having no other business to attend to, Cookie motioned to adjourn the meeting. Melissa seconded. All present in favor.

Special Meeting adjourned at 7:58pm

EMEDA’s next regular monthly meeting will be September 5, 2023 at 6:30pm at the Plevna Bar.

         s\ Vaughn Zenko, Executive Director                                                                            a\  Steve Zachmann, Chairman