Billings City Council set to determine NDO's fate Monday

2014-06-09T00:00:00Z 2014-06-14T22:15:19Z Billings City Council set to determine NDO's fate MondayBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

With a vote scheduled on whether to move forward with drafting a nondiscrimination ordinance, Monday’s Billings City Council meeting could be one of the most crowded of the year.

The agenda certainly is.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at city hall.

The NDO, an issue that has dominated recent city council discussions and public testimony, will be Monday’s last item of business. Item 7, the proposal to halt work on drafting the ordinance, includes a public hearing.

In a memo, City Administrator Tina Volek lays out three alternatives for city council consideration:

n Vote “yes” to rescind the initiative to create the NDO and revise city employment anti-discrimination administrative orders. That would “have the effect of permanently tabling these items unless a future initiative re-institutes the matter,” Volek wrote.

n Postpone consideration until a specific date, such as after the 2015 session of the Montana Legislature, to see if an anti-discrimination law is considered. “The city passed medical marijuana laws a few years ago,” Volek wrote, “only to have the state subsequently pass legislation that rendered most of the city’s ordinance moot.”

n Vote “no” on rescinding the initiative and proceed to the June 16 work session for review and possible future action on the ordinance and administrative orders.

In accordance with the council’s May 27 initiative, staff, according to Volek, recommends that the city council vote to rescind the initiative that got the NDO process rolling and rescind a revision of the city employment anti-discrimination orders.

Other business:

n A public hearing on a variance to allow Bill Jensen, the new owner of what was formerly known as the Smör mobile food trailer, to serve customers from the property at 628 Grand Ave. The city’s site development ordinance prohibits customer access via the alley in cases where the alley abuts a residential zone. Jensen has applied for a temporary use permit for seasonal use only.

n A public hearing and resolution approving and adopting the 2014-15 budget. The city council has heard four presentations on the proposed budget and committed about 14 hours toward the review. The proposed budget totals about $277.4 million, including about $34.1 million in the General Fund.

n A public hearing and resolutions setting annual assessments for the 2014-15 fiscal year for street maintenance; storm sewer; arterial construction; business improvement district; mill levy rates for the general fund, transit, library and Public Safety 1; and the Tourism Business Improvement District. According to Finance Director Patrick Weber, the vote on approving the arterial construction assessment requires a two-thirds supermajority because the assessment rate is proposed to increase.

Among consent agenda items, the city council will decide whether to spend $35,000 out of the 2013-14 city council contingency fund on two projects: $25,000 to complete planning and begin buying equipment for the High Sierra Park disc golf course, and $10,000 to help pay for the Optimist Park Master Plan.

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