The Hill County Park Board Monday approved having the county assess garbage collection fees on the property taxes for cabins in Beaver Creek Park, but delayed any decision on other fees — other than for a waiver it also approved Monday — until a committee can take another look at the issue.
After debating another of the committee’s recommendations at Monday’s meeting, the board also approved creating a special waiver to allow outbuildings that are not in compliance with park regulations to remain temporarily, with a $50 annual fee.
The park board created the committee in January after extensive discussions of fees used to help fund the park’s operation, including a proposal to directly charge cabin owners for garbage collection.
After Hill County Commissioner Jeff LaVoi suggested at the board’s February meeting it look at setting fees for a three-year period instead of reviewing them each year, the board asked the committee to look at that idea.
Board member Robbie Lucke Monday presented the recommendations of the committee, saying its members want to delay making a decision on many issues until it could get a couple of people representing grazers on the committee.
“I want to thank the cabin owners once again for helping us out,” Lucke said. “They really stepped up and helped us in deciding in what would happen and what should happen and what was fair and what wasn’t fair.”
Board member Larry Kinsella suggested to the board that, if it was going to look at setting fees for a three-year period, the fee increases put in place last year be the start of the three years.
“That could be a starting point,” he said.
Board Chair Steve Mariani said that when the committee does its work in September, that could be part of the discussion.
“I think that’s a great idea,” he said.
The board’s first action was approving the committee’s recommendation about charging garbage collection fees on cabin owners’ property taxes.
The board has discussed the idea of charging cabin owners the fee directly for several months. Part of the reason the committee was appointed in January was in response to some cabin owners’ complaints about taking another fee increase to pay for garbage collection.
The discussion Monday included how the garbage fees are handled now. The Unified Disposal Board that handles garbage collection in Blaine, Hill and northern Chouteau counties and operates the local landfill just east of Havre charges the park $5,312.50 for collection of garbage from the cabins on the park.
The board budgets for that expense. The park budget includes the revenue generated by park, including revenue from cattle grazing, the cabin site leases, park use permit sales and reserved site fees, and from the county general fund if park revenues do not meet its budget needs.
The board Monday agreed to have the county assess the fees on the property taxes for the cabins, then pay it to the Unified Disposal Board, instead of having the park board pay it from its general budget. The bill would be split into two payments of $21.25, one on each property tax payment typically made by property owners.
Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson said that most property owners in the county already pay the fee, and the Unified Disposal Board is looking at bringing in some other property owners now exempt.
He said that some property owners who own land in rural parts of Hill County already pay the collection fees, but others do not. If the disposal board adds those property owners to collections, it could help at least keep rates stable if not reduce rates, he said.