The City of Hamilton has agreed to submit a joint application with Ravalli County to the Montana Department of Commerce for a Community Development Block Grant-Economic Development Program (CDBG-ED) grant. According to Julie Foster, Executive Director of the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, the CDBG-ED program is a federally funded program for communities of less than 50,000 people to take action on the community’s economic development priorities. The projects must benefit low and moderate income persons. In 1982 the Montana Department of Commerce took on administration of the funding for communities of less than 50,000 for housing, public facilities and economic development. She said the money can be used for infrastructure such as sewer, water, roads and sidewalks in support of businesses. The program requirements include having a business plan for each business that will benefit from the improvements and for the jobs being created The jobs created must be maintained and are aggregated and tracked for one year. When cost of jobs is $10,000 or more, the jobs have to meet a national objective and be tracked for longer time.
“To be eligible it must be demonstrated that 51% of the jobs created will be filled by low to moderate income people,” said Foster. In Hamilton the moderate income level is $40,000 per person.
The City council also approved on second reading two ordinances in its ongoing efforts at updating the Hamilton Municipal Code.
The Council approved an ordinance amending several sections of the code related to city permits and business license requirements. According to Public Works Director Donny Ramer, the primary purpose of the changes was to remove fees from the ordinance and add language allowing fees to be adopted by resolution. Currently it can take up to two months to change fees by ordinance due to public hearing requirements associated with passing an ordinance versus simply making changes by resolution of the Council. Changes were also made clarifying insurance requirements for business licenses and excavation permits.
Ramer said that the permitting process had been consolidated, reducing the number of permits required for building and construction from six different permits down to one all-inclusive permit with check boxes for the various actions being permitted.
A second ordinance was passed updating and amending multiple sections of Title 15 of the Hamilton Municipal Code to update adopted building codes and clarify inspection and fee process.
The new ordinance revises the primary rules under which the Building Department operates adding the International Pool & Spa Code, the International Mechanical Code and the International Fuel and Gas Code to the city’s rules. According to Ramer, the city’s current building inspector is certified to inspect all those codes as well as the National Electrical Code, which was also added to the City regulations. Ramer said that this allows contractors to get all the permits from the City in one inspection rather than trying to coordinate with state inspectors.
Changes in the code were also made clarifying that if no new codes were proposed, that old codes could be updated through adoption by resolution rather than by ordinance. It was also clarified that city fees will match the state fees. A change was also made in the violation section establishing that a double fee will be collected if construction has begun without a permit.
In other business, Lea Guthrie was appointed to a three-year term on the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment. City Planner Matthew Rohrbach endorsed Guthrie’s appointment, noting that the position requires knowledge of the review process and is not simply an advisory board, but was a decision-making body. He said her experience working as Director of the Ravalli County Environmental Health Department and for the Bitter Root Land Trust would make her a valuable addition to the board. City Attorney Karen Mahar, based on her own experience working with Guthrie in her previous work with the county and the land trust, gave Guthrie two thumbs up.
The City Council also:
• approved contracts for the 2021 season with Bitterroot Red Sox American Legion Baseball and Hamilton Babe Ruth Baseball “with no significant changes.”
• approved contract with TischlerBise Inc. to conduct an Impact Fee Study in an amount not to exceed $49,630.
• approved parking cars on the grass at Hieronymous Park during the Heroes and Hotrods Car Show scheduled for May 31, 2021.
Michael Howell can be contacted at [email protected] or (406)239-4838.