Yellowstone County voters, along with those of Billings and Laurel, will have an opportunity to decide if they wish to have a government review commission elected this year.
I served on the last county review commission 20 years ago, which consisted of Stan Ullman, Daria Day, Bruce Frederickson, Marilyn Huestis, Shelia Llewellyn, Mike Kennedy, James Reno and myself. The costs of the study were absorbed by a mill levy set by statute. Our commission was quite conservative in the expenses we incurred. Most of those were for attending the initial workshop in Bozeman, notices in the press about meetings, postage, some secretarial fees, reimbursement for our mileage and the cost of putting our recommendations on the ballot.
Our committee made three recommendations. All three were rejected by the voters. Since that study, the county government has experienced many changes and faces new challenges.
Over the two-year study period, we heard some rather blunt concerns about the way county government was viewed and operated during meetings held throughout the county. Personally I learned a lot about civics, history, law, finances, mandates and government obligations. I went into the study with some perceptions and found out that many of them were misconceptions after learning how legislation and constraints affect the ability of the county government to respond to the needs of the residents.
I would encourage a yes vote for all the study commissions and hope that people with common sense and an open mind file for the commission seats.