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County Agrees On MOU To Address Properties

The Roosevelt County Commissioners have agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the City of Wolf Point to clean up abandoned tax deeded properties in Wolf Point.

Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak and Roosevelt County deputy attorney Thomas Bleicher first approached commissioners about the idea in late May. They were pleased with the commissioner’s approval on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Dschaak thanked the commissioners and county attorney’s office, especially Bleicher, for all the work done to reach an agreement.

“It’s an absolute step in the right direction,” Dschaak said. “I can’t wait to clean up some lots.”

Bleicher noted about Wolf Point’s mayor, “Chris cares about this community.”

Parts of the MOU include: * The city and county agree to jointly clean up lots identified as tax delinquent properties when the county accepts tax deed properties from the tax delinquent property list.

* The city will waive all landfill costs associated with the clean-up of said lots as part of this agreement.

* The city will provide a minimum of two city employees, two small dump trucks, one skid-steer and one backhoe. City equipment will be operated by city employees only.

* The county will provide up to three county employees, two dump trucks and a backhoe or track-hoe. County equipment will be operated by county employees only.

* The city shall retain no ownership interest in the cleaned up properties. The county shall maintain full ownership interest in the cleaned up properties, despite the city contributing to the clean-up effort as outlined in the MOU. The county shall be free to dispose of the properties as desired.

* Lots cleaned up under the terms of this MOU will be advertised and sold by the county after clean-up efforts are concluded.

* The term of this agreement is from Oct. 1, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2024. The term may be extended for an additional one-year term by mutual written agreement. Either party may terminate this MOU at any time by providing written notice to the other party.

During the meeting on Nov. 28, commissioner Robert Toavs noted that the agreement is a “maiden voyage” for communities across the county. He said that for the MOU to work, the county need to take over tax deeds.

Commissioner Gary Macdonald argued, “It’s not a county responsibility, I’m sorry.”

Commissioner Gordon Oelkers asked when was the last time that the county needed to purchase such a property in Culbertson. “Never,” he answered his own question.

Dschaak told commissioners that he keeps hearing from taxpayers that they want the city, county and Fort Peck Tribes to work together. He didn’t agree with the comment that each entity needs to help themselves.

“We all have to make ourselves better,” Dschaak said. “We work better together than apart.”

Toavs noted, “It’s a move in the right direction for me.”

Macdonald voted to approve the MOU, but he said that he still has problems using county money for a city.

Resident Bill Juve said, “It’s about time something like this happens.”

Juve mentioned the health and welfare benefits for the Wolf Point community. He said it’s good for people throughout the county who visit Wolf Point.

“It’s something that really needs to be done,” Juve said.

Also doing the meeting, commissioners approved an agreement for the formation of a multi-county opioid abatement region to make decisions about funds through the opioid settlement. The region features 17 counties.

The group will have the responsibility to make decisions about planning, budgeting and disbursement of funds for projects that will equitably and appropriately serve the needs of the entire region.

Hired for the detention center were Donald Tomsic and Wade Hansen.

The resignation of Ryan Zimmerman from the sheriff’s office was accepted.

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