Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Ordinance Committee sends mayor raise to council

Plans to draft city ordinance to prevent feeding deer


Last updated 9/9/2020 at 11:37am

Havre City Council’s Ordinance Committee sent to the full council a proposal to give the mayor of Havre a raise, and also discussed adding to city ordinance that it is illegal to feed deer in the city.

Council member Terry Lilletvedt brought a proposal to the committee, which met Tuesday following the meeting of the full city council, to give the mayor a raise from $22,000 a year to $30,000 a year.

Lilletvedt said the last time the mayor got a raise was in 2006, and it was time for another.

She added that her proposal had nothing to do with the performance of the sitting mayor, just that the job deserves higher pay than it gets now.

“We need to attract good people to run this city,” Lilletvedt said.

The committee, chair Andrew Brekke and members Lindsay Ratliff and Karen Swenson, discussed with Lilletvedt the hours of the position.

Brekke said that was a major discussion during the vote on the raise from $20,000 a year to $22,000 a year in 2006.

The position has no set hours, he said.

Ratliff asked what could be done if someone was elected who acted as a part-time mayor but still was receiving the increased hours.

Brekke said that would be up to the voters, adding that he hopes the voters would elect someone who would take the responsibility seriously.

Havre is somewhat unique, he said, with a mayor who supervises 100 employees and manages a $28 million budget. 

Mayors of larger cities typically have a city manager who runs the day-to-day operations, he said.

Swenson said the hours the mayor works depends on what is going on — some days and some parts of the year require more hours in the office.

Brekke and Swenson said that the last three mayors, incumbent Tim Solomon and former mayors Bob Rice and Phyllis Leonard, all have acted as full-time executive officers.

That was part of what led to the 2006 raise while Rice was mayor, Brekke said.

Brekke added that giving elected officials a raise is a political football and it would raise complaints in some quarters.

The three committee members voted unanimously to send the proposal, effective Jan. 1, to the full City Council for discussion and a vote.

The committee also heard a request from Solomon to add a provision specifying that feeding deer in the city is illegal.

Solomon said he has been talking to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials about the deer in Havre and how they are becoming a problem.

Brekke said he has been talking to a FWP representative as well who said at least three herd of deer are coming into the city from different directions.

He said he has had insurance customers come in with claims when they hit deer in the city, adding that he had to slow down for some deer on Fifth Avenue, that just looked at his car while they crossed the street.

“At least they were using the crosswalk,” he said. 

Solomon said having the food out is making the deer used to coming into town, adding that the main problem is when people are putting food out in the winter.

He said other communities in Montana such as Helena have tried allowing hunting the deer that are in the city, but the layout of Havre makes that unreasonable, and the hunting program becomes pretty expensive as well.

He said what could help is educating the residents of the city.

“Our first step is the feeding of the deer,” he said. 

People putting out food in low-hanging bird and squirrel feeders is one thing that is attracting the deer into Havre, Solomon said.

“People are actually putting some stuff out for them,” he said “ … We actually caught them with hay, actually putting out hay for them.”

Putting the restriction in the ordinance would help and could be educational, getting people to put feeders up where deer aren’t getting at them and clean up the ground, he said.

“That’ll take care of a lot of the problem,” he said

He said the proposed ordinance would pretty well copy state law that already prevents feeding deer. Having it in city ordinance would help educate people and make it easier to enforce, he said.

Brekke said he would prefer using an ordinance similar to what Helena uses, and that he would draft something for the committee to look at at its next meeting.

“I agree with the mayor, that would be the appropriate thing,” he said. “ … It’s about education more than anything.”


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