Havre Daily News
In the coming weeks, the Havre City Council's Ordinance Committee will consider several items, including the way City Council members are paid.
Additionally, the executive director of the St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group will be in Havre to update City Council members and the public on the group's efforts to secure funding to repair the aging canal system.
Here's a quick look at what's coming:
The current ordinance dictates that City Council members are paid $100 per meeting for two meetings a month. City Council member Gerry Veis is asking that the ordinance be changed to $200 per month. He said today that the ordinance needs to be clarified.
“It doesn't tell you what kind of meeting it should be,” Veis said, noting that City Council members also attend committee meetings. “There's no clarification.”
He said he is not advocating for a change in pay, adding that City Council members often put in extra hours talking to residents on the phone or in person.
“To me, I don't know what would rate as fair or not,” he said. “I think it's reasonable. I don't think it's in any way extreme.”
City Council member Pam Hillery said the current ordinance is not exactly followed to the letter. She said today that council members' paychecks are $200 per month, whether they make it to a meeting or not.
Even during their busiest months, council members' $200-a-month pay breaks down to about $20 an hour for their time spent in meetings, she estimated.
That figure does not include work outside of meetings, she added.
“I'm not at all denying what Gerry saysabout whether we earn it or not,” Hillery said.
The Ordinance Committee will meet on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m.
City Council president Rick Pierson said Monday that he recently learned the City Council has never officially adopted rules of order by which to conduct business. The Ordinance Committee, which Pierson chairs, will also discuss adopting Robert's Rules of Order at its meeting on Feb. 16. Pierson said today that the City Council now follows Robert's Rules, albeit unofficially.
“Anytime you have a motion, a second, a debate and a decision made, you're actually following Robert's Rules of Order,” Pierson said. “Just to keep ourselves out of trouble, we need to formally adopt Robert's Rules of Order.”
According to the Council of Robert's Rules Association, the rules were initially drafted by Henry Martyn Robert, an Army engineering officer who was asked to preside over a church meeting and realized he did not know the correct procedure. He was transferred to various parts of the country and found that people in each region had their own ideas about how to run a meeting. He published his first rule book in 1876. The 10th edition was published in 2000.
St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group executive director Larry Mires will attend a public information meeting Feb. 21, Havre public works director Dave Peterson said Monday. Mires will update Havre residents on the working group's progress.
The advisory board is working on a proposal to send to Congress that would change the funding formula for repairs to the aging diversion works, which augment the flow of the Milk River with water from the St. Mary River. Under current law, the repairs must be paid by irrigators. The most recent estimate has put that price tag at more than $120 million.
At a Jan. 25 meeting in Cut Bank, working group members approved a proposed federal funding request of more than $12 million for St. Mary-related efforts, including a federal environmental impact statement, continued engineering service, studies on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and other projects, a press release said.
Peterson and Havre Police Chief Mike Barthel, in his capacity as Walleyes Unlimited state president, serve on the working group.
The meeting is set for 7 p.m. The working group's regular monthly meeting is set for Feb. 22 in Havre.