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Council receives request from Magris Talc, hears Rest Home Tax presentation

During its Oct. 11 meeting, the Three Forks City Council was approached via a letter by Magris Talc requesting assistance with a federal grant application that would improve the safety of the pedestrian crossing on the Montana Rail Links track near Bench Road and Old Yellowstone Trail.

The letter, signed by Magris Talc's Director Pat Downey and Talc Operations Controller Jan Lien, explained that the company plans to use the funds to improve the crossing in preparation for the construction of softball fields in the area - which will serve as the Three Forks High School's softball facility.

"The Three Forks Fast Pitch and Three Forks Baseball organizations have approached Magris Talc requesting permission to use a portion of company land south of the railroad crossing on Bench Road to build baseball and softball fields. There is a high level of community support for this project," read the letter.

Additionally, Magris stated that they support the project because it would improve safety around incoming and outgoing truck traffic.

Although the letter initially requests a letter of support from the city, it later suggests that the grant is more likely to be approved if submitted by the city.

Council President Gene Townsend voiced concern with taking on another grant application since the city is already working on the FEMA floodplain grant.

No decision was made during the meeting allowing the council to discuss the project and grant.

Magris Talc has yet to apply for a conditional-use permit for the construction of baseball and softball fields.

Slower speeds roll towards Three Forks

The City Council also discussed the possibility of reducing the speed limit in various areas around town from 25 miles per hour to 15.

Susan Swimley, the Three Forks city attorney, informed the board that without an engineering study backing up the decision, it would be difficult to enforce the speed change except near parks and schools.

Townsend reminded the council and those in attendance that a Bozeman school teacher was recently struck and killed by a vehicle running a red light, reinforcing his belief in the need for improved traffic safety.

The council unanimously voted to research the cost of an engineering study and discussed the installation of stop signs throughout the city.

Gallatin valley rest home seeks tax funding

Gallatin Rest Home Administrator Darcel Vaughn attend the Oct. 11 Three Forks City Council meeting to present information on a proposed mill levy listed on the Nov. 8 ballot, which would provide the facility with critical tax funding.

The proposed nine mills would collect approximately $3.9 million annually, costing residents $12.15 yearly for every $100,000 of their properties' assessed values.

"[It's} a pretty small price to pay for what we get in exchange," Townsend said following the presentation.

Currently, the rest home operates in a deficit, Vaughn said, relying on the county commission to cover the debt from its general fund.

Vaughn said the operation defect results from an insufficient Medicaid reimbursement per each payment. The state of Montana regulates the daily, pre patient amount that facilities such as the Gallatin Rest Home receives from Medicaid, providing $213 a day per patient.

Vaughn said it costs at a minimum $100 more daily to care for each of the facility's 69 patients, increasing significantly when the facility has to hire contract staff-such as traveling nurses-to fill its 50 vacant positions.

The Gallatin Rest Home is the last trained care facility in the Gallatin Valley, Vaugh said, following a trend in the loss of such facilities around the state.

Although the mill is on the ballot, the rest home will only levy the funds if necessary.

"If the state fixes the Medicaid reimbursement gap to make up for the shortfall in funding, then we can operate the facility without a property tax subsidy," read the presentation.

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