NDO, other important items on Monday's council agenda

2014-07-07T06:00:00Z 2014-07-07T17:15:04Z NDO, other important items on Monday's council agendaBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

In addition to further work on the language of the proposed nondiscrimination ordinance, Monday’s Billings City Council work session, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at city hall, includes other important considerations:

An update on the proposed public safety mill levy, which Mayor Tom Hanel prefers to call the “family safety mill levy, because it’s about the safety of our families and all residents of Billings.” Assistant City Administrator Bruce McCandless said a staff report on the proposed levy would be available Monday.

A discussion on a proposed annexation as part of the Exposition Gateway Infrastructure Plan. According to a report by City Administrator Tina Volek, the cost to extend stormwater, water and sewer services to the county property, which is near MetraPark, is $3.1 million. Funding sources totaling about $1.1 million have been identified; the best option to cover the remaining $2 million, she wrote, is revenue bonds paid for by future Tax Increment Financing funds.

The City Council will have a look at two more chapters of the 2014 Long Range Transportation Plan — Chapter 11, The Recommended Plan, and Chapter 12, The Financial Plan. The council is scheduled to vote whether to accept the plan and send it along to the Policy Coordinating Committee during its July 14 meeting.

The City Council’s initiative process, by which members propose actions they want city staff to begin working on. Hanel said he wants to discuss the future use of the initiative, which he called “a good tool to keep business moving forward and a strong, positive means of communication of council and staff.” “However,” Hanel added, “we need to be cautious if the initiative process involves the city as far as any financial matters or other matters of extreme importance go, because that’s not what the initiative process was intended to do.” Hanel said he expects “we will be visiting the process as a council in a public setting and try to improve the process with respect to public notice and public opportunity for input.”

The NDO, the item of business that has garnered interest from and generated controversy among hundreds of Billings residents, is the final item listed on Monday’s meeting agenda.

City staff has marked up the proposed ordinance based on feedback from the public and from the city council. Among the possible changes:

The update eliminates prohibitions against discrimination based on a person’s veteran’s status, political beliefs or obesity.

It adds or augments definitions for terms including bisexuality, discrimination, heterosexuality, homosexuality, housing accommodation and transgender.

It asks for further council discussion and clarification on a section that could require people to use, for example, restrooms that are “designated for their anatomical sex, regardless of their gender identity.”

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