Big Sky coalition’s petition to withdraw from the Madison Valley Hospital District
51% signature threshold not met
The public filled the meeting room and spilled, shoulder to shoulder, into the lobby of the Madison County Administration Building to attend a Madison County Board of Commissioners (MCBC) hearing on a petition to withdraw all Madison County properties located within the Big Sky Resort Area District from the Madison Valley Hospital District on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.
The meeting was quickly brought to a close after it was determined by the Madison County Clerk and Recorder’s office that the 51% threshold of qualifying signatures required by Montana Code Annotated (MCA) had not been met with the submitted petition.
“With that said, [according to] Montana statute 7-34-2156, we have not met the statutory requirements of 51% of the signatures or more of the taxpayers residing in and owning property within the desired area to be withdrawn from any public hospital. So therefore, we cannot legally hold this hearing,” said MCBC Chairman Dan Allhands.
The petition was received by the Madison County Clerk & Recorder’s office on Dec. 20, 2023. “Since then we had discussion with the County Attorney’s office to determine the method to qualify the signatures,” said Paula McKenzie, Madison County Clerk & Recorder/Election Administrator.
The Clerk and Recorder’s office determined there were 48 qualifying names. “Of those 48, we were able to verify 23 signatures, this put us at 48% verified signatures,” said McKenzie.
McKenzie clarified the process that the Clerk and Recorder's office used to qualify the signatures:
242 signatures were received.
The Clerk and Recorder’s office received a list from the Montana State Library, which is in charge of Montana Cadastral, where the public can view information about public and private land ownership. Names were cross referenced and removed if they were not on that list.
Anyone who was not a Montana resident was removed.
Anyone who did not have buildings on their property was removed, “No building, no occupancy.”
All trusts and LLCs that were not registered within the Big Sky Madison Valley Hospital District were removed.
Daniel Bierschwale, Big Sky Resort Area District (BSRAD) executive director, questioned how the taxpayer status outlined in statute was validated. McKenzie clarified that the office had looked at Cadastral and looked at taxing information to see if they were paying taxes, if they were not a resident of the [Madison] County/Big Sky area, they were taken off.
A member of the audience requested how to make the documents of whose signatures were qualified and disqualified public information and McKenzie responded with the process for a public information request.
The meeting was adjourned.
*For any who are interested in any discussion, motions or context, all Madison County Board of Commissioner meetings are recorded and available at https://www.madisoncountymt.gov/AgendaCenter.1978
Corrected at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, January 20, 2024. The Big Sky Resort Area District (BSRAD) was incorrectly identified in the first publication.