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The original item was published from 12/16/2014 9:04:26 AM to 12/31/2014 12:05:00 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: December 16, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Proposal puts scrutiny on uses for economic money

Butte-Silver Bow commissioners will weigh new guidelines for how the county distributes money from the economic development mill levy.

A proposal prepared by a six-commissioner economic development committee would require applicants who want a piece of the $68,000 fund to outline their project, describe economic benefits to Butte-Silver Bow, define “specific, measurable results and milestones” that the project would achieve and have a “detailed” budget.

Commissioners will discuss the proposal at its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the courthouse.

A committee was formed in October to create new guidelines after commissioners raised concerns about how the money was being spent.

“We wanted to try to clean up our own house as much as possible,” said Commissioner Sheryl Ralph, who was a driving force behind the new guidelines. “It hasn’t been looked at since it started.”

The mill levy was approved by the council of commissioners and voters in 1990, taking money from the general tax fund for economic development.

“It’s a very direct line for that purpose,” said community development director Karen Byrnes, whose office will oversee the new application process. The levy was renewed four years later, and in 2004 mills were increased slightly. They went up again in 2008.

Applicants will have to give an oral presentation to an ad hoc committee of commissioners. Those who are granted money are required to conduct a self-evaluation and present a summary report to the Council, which includes a financial report, within 90 days of a project’s completion.

The proposal also contains a rubric for the county to evaluate submissions. The “quality” of projects would be the most important category, weighted toward 45 percent of final grades. Project “viability” carries 40 percent of the evaluation, and the experience of the organization behind projects would account for 15 percent.

Read the full story in the Montana Standard
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