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Opinions – 1996 (Volume 46, Opinions 13-27)

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Volume & Opinion Number Opinion Held Date Issued
46-27 Pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. §§ 17-3-222 and 20-9-331(2)(a), a county must allocate its share of funds provided by the federal government to the State under the Taylor Grazing Act, 43 U.S.C. § 315i, 50 percent to the county general fund and 50 percent to the equalization account of the elementary BASE funding program. 12/31/96
46-26 The office of county commissioner and the position of county coordinator of disaster and emergency services are incompatible, and one individual may not hold both simultaneously. 12/12/96
46-25 Montana law does not permit a public employer to offer a “cash out” benefit to employees whereby the unused accumulated vacation leave credits of a public employee who is not terminating employment are “bought back” by the employer. 10/17/96
46-24 The proceedings of the Montana Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association (MLHIGA) board of directors are subject to the Open Meeting Law, Mont. Code Ann. tit. 2, ch. 3, pt. 2. Thus, the MLHIGA may close a meeting only when and to the extent that the demands of individual privacy clearly exceed the merits of public disclosure. 10/10/96
  1. A city and a county may form a multijurisdictional library service district if they meet all statutory requirements, including that: (1) any existing contract for library services involving residents of one or more of the participating jurisdictions has lawfully expired; (2) any and all requirements of Mont. Code Ann. §§ 7-11-1101 to -1112 are met; and (3) any applicable requirements of Mont. Code Ann. §§ 15-10-401 to -412 are met.
  2. A multijurisdictional service district may not be formed for the sole purpose of equalizing the tax burden among those currently using the service, but as long as the district provides services in the manner required by Mont. Code Ann. § 7-11-1101, it may also use a multijurisdictional service district to equalize the tax burden among those who use the service.
  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 76-2-205(6) enlarges “protest rights” for freeholders whose property is classified for real property tax purposes as agricultural or forest land, where their combined title ownership represents 50 percent of the total property ownership within the proposed or revised zoning district. These enlarged protest rights supplement the protest rights provided to 40 percent of freeholders within the district whose names appear on the last-completed assessment roll.
  2. The phrase “freeholders representing 50 percent of the titled property ownership” within Mont. Code Ann. § 76-2-205(6) requires that all owners of property held in joint or common ownership join in the protest for the area of the parcel to be included in the calculation of the protest area. Condominium owners or purchasers are entitled to have their proportionate share of the freehold interest in the land area of the particular development included in the calculation of the protest area.
46-21 In a council-mayor form of government, the mayor, in the exercise of his statutory authority to manage and supervise the municipal police force and absent an ordinance to the contrary, may designate an officer to serve as assistant police chief without prior approval of the municipal council. 07/03/96
  1. The county is obligated to provide administrative support services which are reasonably necessary to allow the county attorney to perform the duties of the elective office.
  2. The county attorney cannot compel the commissioners to authorize the hiring as a county employee of a legal secretary for the county attorney absent a showing that any other employment arrangement would prevent the county attorney from performing the minimum statutory duties of the job.
  1. A county in Montana that offered library services prior to 1986 cannot form a new taxing unit and avoid the tax limitations of I-105 by establishing a public library pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 22-1-303, or by forming a multijurisdictional service district to provide library services pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 7-11-1105.
  2. A county that has established a county free library pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 22-1-303 is authorized to contract directly with the board of trustees of the free public library of any incorporated city to assume all county library functions and to pay the sum agreed upon out of the county free library fund.
46-18 Subject to the limitations contained in Mont. Code Ann. § 53-21-132(2), the county of residence is financially responsible for costs incurred in connection with the detention and precommitment custody of persons taken into protective custody pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 53-21-124 or -129. 06/05/96
46-17 Uniform health benefit plans, authorized by 1995 Montana Laws chapter 527, must include coverage for the services and articles specifically referred to in sections 33-22-245 and -522 and the mandated benefit provisions of title 33, chapter 22. 06/03/96
46-16 Any extension of a delineated municipal jurisdictional area extending beyond the corporate limits of a municipality must be accomplished following the procedure mandated by Mont. Code Ann. § 50-60-101(10) and Mont. Admin. R. 8.70.211, which require a municipality to submit and the Department of Commerce to act upon a new request for approval of the extension. 04/04/96
46-15 A city with general government powers must add any excess cash balance into the calculation of its annual budget and may not use such cash to create a ten-year irrevocable trust fund operated by a third-party trustee. 04/03/96
46-14 A charter form of government may combine legislative and executive powers in the government’s legislative body. 03/19/96
46-13 A self-governing city has the authority to establish conditions for garbage collection companies within its city limits, unless the city’s conditions are established in a manner that: (1) is prohibited by constitution or charter, (2) prohibits the grant or denial of a certificate of public convenience and necessity, or (3) is inconsistent with state law or regulation. 02/28/96
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