Your Lewis and Clark County Commission has been busy since the first of the year. Among the more pressing issues have been deciding whether or not to allow the voters to decide on whether they are willing to fund a permanent levy to support the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. After dozens of public meetings of the Fairgrounds Footprint Committee, and a thorough public hearing in the Commission chambers, the Commission voted unanimously to let the voters decide if they are willing to pay less than what they currently pay (the levy) is expiring, but to continue to pay indefinitely to fund the improvements at the Fairgrounds. The reason the proposal was moved forward by the Fair Board was that the demand for Fairgrounds facilities was growing faster than the current structures could accommodate. There is a huge economic impact in Helena; their Chamber of Commerce estimates that the improvements would generate $39 million dollars in economic impact for the community. A recent gathering of some church members resulted in over 1100 hotel rooms to be rented that weekend. That impact is significant.
The resolution that the Commission passed included special consideration for rural residents: 10% of any revenue generated by the Fairground levy would be set aside for the residents of those areas to defray expenses for programming at the Fairgrounds. The arrangements would be made with the school districts and the Fairgrounds as recommendations to the Commission. An example would be that if Augusta were to generate $30,000 for their part of the levy, $3000 would be available to that town’s citizens to take advantage of the improvements at the site. This provision affects taxpayers living more than 25 miles from Helena: Lincoln, Wolf Creek and Augusta.
While it’s not unprecedented, there is no doubt that the snow fall levels are creating inconvenience to all of us. Please know that our crews are doing their best to keep our roads open and safe. A real concern is the possibility of flooding as the snow melts. Sheriff Leo Dutton, his deputies and the Commission will keep citizens apprised of possible threats. We will be working in close consultation with various media to keep people informed. In the meantime, please pray for the weather conditions that we need as spring arrives.