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City Council selects projects for SLIPA funding

In 2023, the Montana State Legislature passed the State-Local Infrastructure Partnership Act (SLIPA), which appropriated $20 million from the state general fund to the Montana Department of Commerce to be distributed to incorporated cities and towns as grants based on infrastructure repair and maintenance. $172,000 of this funding has been set aside for the City of Three Forks, requiring a 25 percent match of $43,000.

At last week's Three Forks City Council meeting, the governing body approved a priority-based list of projects to send to the state. In December, the Council requested staff and the public for ideas for repair and maintenance projects.

Council member Garret Buchanan made a motion to list the top three priorities for infrastructure projects:

• A fire hall remodel to add a second bathroom and a shower.

• ADA Automatic Door Replacement at the Three Forks Community Library.

• Remodeling at City Hall.

The list presented at the January 23 meeting also included water well maintenance and replacement of fire hydrants as the top two priorities. Before making his motion, Buchanan discussed the well maintenance and fire hydrants as items that could possibly be covered within the city budget. Other items on the list presented at the meeting were Fire Hall Fire Suppression, library lighting replacements, and City Hall Fire Suppression.

City officials said at the meeting that they are allowed 28 firefighters, and even with the 12 or 13 they have now, there is only one bathroom, and volunteers need a place to wash off carcinogens.

Library Director Jaimie Ewan told the Council that the doors and ramp at the facility are not up to code.

"I'm always worried the doors are going to smash somebody," she said.

Before the vote, Council member Gene Townsend discussed a possible remodel at City Hall.

Townsend said that other than some well houses, City Hall is the oldest property the city has, and it has not received much love over the years.

Townsend said if somebody moves to Three Forks, City Hall will probably be one of their first stops, adding it would not hurt to dress up the building.

"It's really crucial we start looking at this building here," Townsend said.

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