Coutts resigns as Polson Ward 1 commissioner

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Polson Mayor Heather Knutson, left, hands Ward 1 Commissioner Todd Coutts a plaque for his service for the last 20 months during the Aug. 21 meeting.

During the Aug. 21 Polson City Commission meeting, officials unanimously passed multiple resolutions with assertion and confidence, except one.

That single item on the agenda was the acceptance of the resignation of Ward 1 Commissioner Todd Coutts, who will be moving to the Missoula area.

Ward 3 Commissioner Ken Siler was absent.

“I think you can hear the weight of all of our voices,” Mayor Heather Knutson said as the commissioners each said “for” the motion.

Ward I resident Mark Johnston got up during the public comment portion of the acceptance, and thanked Coutts for his work.

“I wish you the best of luck in Missoula,” he said, congratulating Coutts.

Knutson thanked Coutts for his dedication.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half,” she said, adding that while it was a busy time, she was thankful Coutts “came on board.”

Knutson presented Coutts with a plaque once the resignation was accepted by the commissioners.

Coutts, 56, announced his pending resignation last month, saying that he couldn’t be in two places at once.

His family is moving so his son, Jeremiah, can attend a school in the area, he said.

The position as Ward I commissioner was the first elected position for Coutts, he said, following the meeting.

Stating he “would love to” run for public office, he said that he will not be able to because he is moving “just outside” of Missoula city limits.

During his time as a commissioner, Coutts said that he is proud of the resort tax discussion he participated in.

“We spent a lot of time with it, particularly hearing from the community and merchants in town,” he said, noting he opposed it. “It was a major issue,” he added.

City Manager Mark Shrives said that there is now a vacancy in Ward I.

Also discussed at the meeting was a water treatment facility update from Project Engineer Kevin Johnson.

The facility, located on 7th Avenue, will cost an estimated $17.6 million. Swank Enterprises out of Kalispell is the contractor for the project.

Overall, the schedule looks “pretty good,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that the project is 19 percent complete on time, 15 percent complete on dollars.

The last two walls of the digestor tanks were to be poured Tuesday, he said, adding in a few weeks, leak testing will be conducted.

Site restrictions between the structures have caused some rescheduling, he noted, so the headwork’s facility excavation has been moved up.

The watermain extension across Kerr Dam Road has been completed, Johnson said, which will be used to fill the tanks.

Concrete pours are done earlier in the day to avoid any heat, but construction workers also haven’t had to “deal with rain,” helping the process along.

City Manager Mark Shrives told commissioners that last week, the city received notice of a lawsuit, regarding the watermain extension Johnson talked about moments before.

The water main extension goes across city property that the Core building “is sitting on,” Shrives explained.

The property is leased to B & I Holding, he said.

A lawsuit from B & I Holdings was sent to the city last week, he said, citing a breach of contact, trespass and “other items.”

Within the lawsuit, “John Does” are named, pertaining to Swank Construction and DOWL Engineering, Shrives said.

Shrives has met with legal representation for the city, he said.

“At this point, nothing other than a lawsuit has been filed,” he confirmed.

An extension until Oct. 20 was passed for the Ridgewater subdivision.

That extension, Knutson said, allows officials time for conversations with developers of Cougar Ridge / Ridgewater in regards to a secondary egress access point and looking at the master plan map and infrastructure.“We’re getting on the same page,” Knutson said.

A first reading for an open container ordinance would make the process easier for vendors to obtain permits.This ordinance would allow the request to be approved at the staff level, for example the chief of police or parks director, rather than go to the city commission, Shrives explained.

“One of the things we have run into, some people have events planned and at the last minute they realize they haven’t gone through the process” to get an open container permit, he said.

“This just makes it a little easier,” he said, adding that reviews will still be conducted.

Events with 75 people or more still need insurance on public property, Shrives said.

Polson City Commission meetings are held on the first and third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 106 1st Street East.

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