Ennis Town Commission recap
North 40 Phase 6 final plat approved, annexation application fees and library wages upped
The Ennis Town Commission held a regular meeting on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. One meeting attendee who did not identify themselves offered public comment, asking Commissioner Lisa Roberts where the money taken from the public works budget to pay for lawyer fees would be paid back from. Commissioner Roberts stated the money, $25,000, would be paid back over five years from the general fund.
• Commissioners voted to approve North 40 Phase 6: Final Plat review. Developer Josh Vujovich stated that paving is almost complete, water and sewer installation will be done within a month, and power and phone are scheduled to go in by mid-December. Landscaping additions will come in the spring.
• Commissioners reviewed, discussed and voted upon a resolution changing application fees for annexation requests for the Town of Ennis. The board had previously agreed current fees were not enough to cover the process, ultimately deciding to raise them to a base application fee of $500 plus $100 per acre of the property of which application has been made for annexations. Annexations under one acre will be rounded up and charged $100.
• In an effort to “close the gap” the board approved an increase in hourly wages for Madison Valley Public Library personnel: Librarian hourly wage went from $21 to $22, Youth Librarian from $17 to $19, Adult Librarian from $13 to $17, and Public Service Librarian from $11.67 to $16, for a total increase of $14,903.20 in wages and $1,341.29 for wage withholdings. It was noted the Town was able to identify library cash reserve funds to cover these additional wage and withholding expenses.
• Public and board discussion noted it may be time to look at other town department wages to keep employees. The board plans to look at employee pay in administration, zooming, law enforcement and public works.
• The board tabled a vote on a resolution of intent to annex .48 acres comprised of three lots of contiguous land into the Town of Ennis pending further information review and procedural steps. The owner of the property is Pippin & Pippin investments. It will be re-addressed at the Dec. 9 town commission meeting.
• Text amendments to the town zoning code related to setback requirements were discussed, bringing height down to 35 feet and reducing setbacks to allow owners to use more of their property while maintaining safe distances. In regards to amendments to Conditional Use Permits, more specific guidelines were created to make the application process easier. Resolutions regarding these changes will be separate; drafts will be presented in soon.
• Library Report: An average of 125 users per day visited the library in October. MVPL was selected by the Montana State Library for a broadband infrastructure upgrade. The new system will have several outdoor drop points to increase service radius. As Library Director Karen Ketchu explained, the library pays for 100mbps, but even on low use days the library receives 80mbps wired and 20mbps for wireless. The upgrade is funded through ARPA.
• Ennis Police Department Report: Officer Matt Fisher is on his fifth week of field training. Sheriff Phil Fortner donated one of his Montana Law Enforcement Academy spots, and if all goes well, Officer Fisher should attend the academy for three months beginning January 2022. - During the month of October 2021, law enforcement responded to 45 incidents and/or calls for service. The EPD issued 12 citations, 49 warnings, two parking tickets and fingerprinted one individual for various criminal background checks.
To listen to the Nov.18 Ennis commission meeting visit Town of Ennis’ Commissioner page for a link to their YouTube channel. Past meetings are also available.