The Billings City Council will tackle several high-profile issues at its meeting tonight, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.
After several delays, the council will likely decide the fate of a pool proposed for Sahara Park in the Heights. The council will also consider future plans for Parmly Billings Library and then vote on an ordinance that will decriminalize many minor municipal infractions.
The Sahara Park pool plan has been before the council several times this year, and each time the council has delayed or extended the matter. This time, the Better Billings Foundation has presented the city with two development agreements for building an aquatic center in the 9.2-acre park.
The parks board and city staff are recommending that the council approve a development agreement that either sells or donates 6.7 acres in the park to the foundation, which would then have three years to raise $4 million for the project. City staff is also pushing for a $100,000 irrevocable line of credit, which means that, if the foundation couldn’t complete the project or abandoned it later, the city would receive the $100,000. The city would own the aquatic center.
Foundation head Chuck Barthuly has said he’s unsure if the foundation can accept a condition requiring the line of credit, so it’s unclear how the matter will be resolved.
The council will also consider plans for the Parmly Billings Library. City officials had hoped to put a library bond measure on the spring ballot to take advantage of low-interest stimulus bonds. Until late last week, the library board and city staff were recommending that the city purchase the Gainan’s building on North 30th Street, renovate it and build an expansion for a total cost of about $14 million. Other options included spending up to $15 million on renovating the existing library building, or spending about $17 million to build a new library.
But at a library board meeting on Thursday, the board rescinded its recommendation to buy the Gainan’s building. Instead, the board recommended delaying any action until at least next October. The board also voted to create a committee to study alternative options, including a proposal by architect Randy Hafer to renovate the existing library building for $8 million.
The council can still push ahead on changes to the library, but it will likely take some time to study alternatives.
The council will also hold a public hearing and consider a municipal infractions ordinance. If passed, the new rules would decriminalize many city infractions, such as minor traffic violations, parking tickets and code violations. The city hopes that the change would lead to violators spending less time in court and paying fines quickly.
The council will also consider a policy on posting council e-mails online every day, as well as tax incentives for Prestige Toyota and Motor Power Equipment Co.