Here are a few Great Falls City Commission updates and answers to questions and comments I’ve received from folks recently.
City County Health Officer Trisha Gardiner provided an update at Tuesday’s city commission meeting and there’s some good news: the numbers in Cascade County are heading in the right direction over the past week or so with fewer positive tests, hospitalizations and COVID-19 deaths.
Add that to the news that Cascade County/Great Falls received our first shipment of vaccines this week and it looks like we’re finally seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
I asked Gardiner about citizen concerns over the CCHD anonymous tip line for reporting local business non-compliance with mask and other mandates.
Her response was that both the State and County have tip lines but that the County asks for, but does not require, names and contact info for those reporting non-compliance issues.
She further added that the County contacts any business that has been reported for non-compliance to get their side of story and that so far the County has not levied any fines for non-compliance.
You can find City Commission meeting details and info here.
At the City Commission work session we heard from Deputy City Manager Chuck Anderson concerning the Animal Shelter Request for Proposal (RFP) response from the Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center and City staff’s final analysis and recommendations as well as response from MCACC Board members.
You can view all of the presented materials here.
Great Falls Voyagers
The Commission voted 4-1 to deny a request from Great Falls Baseball Club, Inc. for 2020 rent forgiveness in the amount of $10,648 for Centene Stadium, home of the Great Falls Voyagers. I voted with Mayor Kelly and Commissioners Moe and Houck to deny the request. Commissioner Robinson voted in favor of the rent forgiveness.
Mayor Kelly proposed deferring the payments over ten years with no interest charge, so the GFBC Inc. will pay about extra $1000 per year for rent on the stadium for the next ten years. I will support that proposal if it comes to the Commission.
For me the issue wasn’t about getting money in the City’s general fund. It was about the message that we would be sending to the many local businesses and their employees who also had to shut down and lose incomes because of COVID-19 without a subsidy from the City or ‘forgiveness’ of their City utility bills or other expenses.
To my mind those employees and businesses are no less valuable to the community than the Great Falls Voyagers.
In fact many of our suffering local businesses don’t come anywhere near to the luxury of having a business relationship with a billion dollar industry like Major League Baseball.
I love baseball and I love our local farm club but for me this was a simple issue of fairness and equity. The Voyagers will be fine.
Stay tuned for more regular City Commission updates.