city hall exterior

Billings City Council chambers.

LARRY MAYER, Gazette Staff

Billings Mayor Bill Cole will name his choice for the next Ward 4 council member during Monday’s city council business meeting.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 220 N. 27th St. Cole’s selection is the ninth item of business on a 10-item agenda.

Cole is choosing from 10 Ward 4 residents to apply for the position. The nominee must then be approved by a majority of the council. The selectee will succeed Ryan Sullivan, who resigned from the council last month to move to Houston.

The term ends Dec. 31, 2019, and the person selected and confirmed by the council will be eligible to run for an additional four-year term in late 2019.

Residents have sent the council dozens of letters of support on behalf of many of the 10 candidates. The top vote-getter among letter writers is Rich Lammers, an emergency room physician at St. Vincent Healthcare.

After making their selection, council members will vote on a short-term employment agreement with the interim city administrator, Bruce McCandless. Terms of the proposed contract were not included in the council’s Friday packet.

In a memo to council members, McCandless also laid out a proposed seven-month schedule for selecting a permanent city administrator. He has said he’s not a candidate for that position, but that he plans to — with the council’s blessing — hire an assistant city administrator. For the time being, Wyeth Friday, planning and community services director, is working part-time as assistant city administrator.

Under the proposed schedule for selecting a permanent city administrator, the council will select an executive search firm during its April 23 meeting. The job will be announced and recruitment will begin on June 11, with an application closing date of July 20.

The proposed schedule shows the council selecting the finalists on Aug. 6, then interviewing them Aug. 29-30. On the next day, a Friday, the council will make its selection, approving an employment agreement during its Sept. 10 meeting.

The new city administrator would then report to work during the month of October.

There are six public hearings scheduled Monday. Among them:

  • Creation of a special improvement district to pay for about $1 million in street lights and park improvements in the Annafeld Subdivision south of Elysian Road near Elysian School.
  • The sale of 0.014 acres — about 610 square feet — of a piece of land on the east side of Zimmerman Trail between Rimrock Road and Highway 3. The Montana Department of Transportation plans to use the land to construct a roundabout at Zimmerman Trail and Highway 3. The purchase price is $2,180.
  • Formation of a special improvement lighting maintenance district along portions of Midland Road that do not already have street lighting, and retrofitting the existing lights with LED-style lights. All costs will be covered by an assessment of about $1,500 per property owner within the district.
  • About $4.2 million in proposed curb and gutter, sidewalk and trail improvements along Midland Road. The project is proposed to be constructed as a work order rather than a special improvement district because only a small portion of the work is being paid by assessments.
  • A $1.37 million project to install conventional curb and gutter or ribbon curb and reconstruction of the Poet Streets, including Highland Park Drive, Longfellow Place, Irving Place, Whittier Place, Emerson Place, Raymond Place and Woodland Drive north of Poly Drive and west of Virginia Lane. Properties are being assessed for curb and gutter or ribbon curb and any construction necessary to match their property to the curb. City funds are being used to reconstruct the asphalt portion of the project, and gas tax funds are being used to improve the condition of the streets to a maintainable standard so that they can be maintained by chip sealing in the future instead of full reconstruction, according to Public Works Director Dave Mumford.

Among consent agenda items are these decisions:

  • Spending about $123,000 for accessible and inclusive playground equipment at Hawthorne Park.
  • Authorizing about $169,000 to purchase six police patrol vehicles.
  • Approving a $140,000 Downtown Revolving Loan Fund loan to Seva Kitchen. The loan will be used to remodel the basement of the restaurant to create a food prep station.
  • Approving a $250,000 Downtown Revolving Loan Fund loan to The 124 Group LLC to remodel the old Wendy’s building, 124 N. 29th St.
  • Accepting a $2,000 anonymous donation for use by the Historic Preservation Board for training, special grant match and other historic preservation activities.
  • Approving a resolution to create a special improvement lighting maintenance district to pay the costs of operating and maintaining new lighting along Central Avenue between 32nd Street West and Shiloh Road. Light district assessments per property owner will range from about $21 to about $1,126 per year, depending on the size and frontage of the property. The council is being asked to set a March 12 public hearing on the matter.
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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.