City Council grants itself a $1,000 raise

Miles City Council members gave themselves a raise on Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously to raise their salaries from the current $3,000 per year to $4,000 per year.

The increase was recommended by the Finance Committee.

Also Tuesday the council discussed the restoration of the fountain at Wibaux Park and a request for an easement to get to a proposed new gravel pit on the north side of the Miles City Airport.

Residents Mark Ahner and Lilly Cruise attended to express their sentiments on the fountain project. Ahner, a former Council member, thanked the current City Council members for the restoration, but said lengthy delays would increase the cost.

“I’d hate to see it languish because the cost is going to go up,” Ahner said, adding that between $50,000 to $57,000 is needed.

Bu that number is low, according to Connie Muggli, the city’s historic preservation director and Urban Renewal District coordinator. She said the total figure for the restoration would be $74,042. So far, $23,070 has been raised through donations and the city budgeted $10,000 from its Capital Improvement program. That means $39,805 is still needed.

The project would include installation of an ADA sidewalk that traverses the park from Winchester Street to the Kiwanis Shelter and to the corner of Strevel and Wibaux Park Drive. An 8.5-foot memorial sidewalk will surround the fountain, which will be accessed by the concrete sidewalk through the park.

Ahner praised Cruise for putting on a play that raised almost $6,000 for the project. He said she is planning another play.

There are four phases to the restoration, he said. The removal has been done and the 12 pieces of marble have been stored. The following phase was the demolition of the fountain base. The trenching for the plumbing and electrical system hasn’t yet been done. “That’s what I think they should be working on now,” Ahner said.

A request for the easement regarding the gravel pit came from Shawn Coffin of Oftedal Construction Inc., a 50-year-old Miles City business.

But the Council, after hearing comments from Doug Phair, chairman of the Airport Board, and Craig Canfield of KLT Engineering, opted to wait until conferring with the Federal Aviation Administration before approving a permit.

That will take some time and Coffin said he wasn’t even certain it would have a major impact on traffic near or on the airport.

“We don’t know the truck impact,” he said. “That’s an unknown thing, it really is.”

“We don’t know the Feds will look at this,” Phair said, adding that a loss of funding from the FAA is a major concern. “We can’t do it without going to the FAA and saying ‘what do you think about this?’

“The road,” he said, “is within the airport protection zone.”

Council also:

— discussed complaints about the parking of campers, motor homes and boats on city streets. One plan that will be considered would be to charge owners for permits for parking privileges.

— learned that Miles City Fire and Rescue has responded to 626 calls for service through May 31, about 80 more than this time last year. That includes 167 in May, including 100 city EMS calls, 23 County EMS calls and 44 city fire and non-EMS calls. 

(Contact Abe Winter at starcity@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450.)