By Martin J. Kidston
Members of the Havre city government traveled to Bozeman last week to attend an annual seminar with city officials from across the state.
Mayor Phyllis Leonard, along with city council members Emily Mayer Lossing, Tom Farnham and Helen Hill attended the open event known as the Montana League of Cities and Towns. City Clerk and Recorder Lowell Swenson, City Engineer Ron Bastin, his assistant Gary Schaub and attorney Mary Van Buskirk were also in attendance.
According to Lossing, the event is held once a year and gives elected officials the opportunity to get in touch with leaders from other communities.
Calling the seminar extremely informational, Lossing said the event is a good opportunity to see what problems other communities are faced with, and how their representatives are working to solve them.
Its good to sit down and hear whats going on in other cities, Lossing said. Its interesting that these governments all have the same problems to solve, and its amazing that they all come up with solutions tailored to fit their own city.
Lossing said that most Montana communities are faced with expensive problems to solve, such as century-old pipes and insufficient facilities. However, though the problems may be similar, she said, the solutions differ.
What may work for Billings may not work in Havre, Lossing said. But there may be one small item, one idea that theyre using that would help us, and thats what we get together for.
Because of the turnover in city government, Lossing said, its important for officials to attend such meetings. The Montana League of Cities and Towns seminar helps to build problem-solving skills while establishing new contacts. It keeps officials in touch with whats going on outside their particular community.
The meetings are very educational and informative, Lossing said. Its important that elected officials attend. Sadly, not all of them do.
Lossing said one of the biggest issues at the meeting was the effect of newly-passed Senate Bill 184 the Property Tax Relief Bill.
Its terrible for local government, especially in eastern Montana where we dont have the growth to count on, Lossing said. This was the number one concern of every elected official that was there, especially the ones from eastern Montana.