Billings News

Cole, Essmann advance to general election in Billings mayor bid

Bill Cole

Jeff Essmann

Originally published in the 9/15/17 print edition of the Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — Mayoral candidates Bill Cole and Jeff Essmann will advance to the general election after receiving the most votes in Tuesday’s primary. Cole received 7,826 votes, or about 32 percent of the 24,228 votes cast. Essmann received 6,502 votes, or about 27 percent. County results are unofficial until after provisional ballots are counted at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18 and after an official canvass of the results is complete. Cole and Essmann were

City, county may split ways on zoning regulations

Originally published in the 8/25/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — Yellowstone County Commissioners approved a proposed separation of the zoning regulations that govern the City of Billings and Yellowstone County.

Called the Unified Zoning Regulations, the City-County Planning Board proposed separating the governance of the two governmental entities to facilitate a planned update and revision of the goals and policies of each.

By the time County Commissioners approved the separation, the City Council had already approved the proposal, said Nicole Cromwell, zoning coordinator and code enforcement supervisor for the Planning Department.

Cromwell said that the separation involved no other changes or deletions to the Unified Zoning Regulations and, in fact, much time was spent on making sure that the zoning regulations for the county and for the city remained the same. Going forward, each governing body will be able to consider and adopt changes to the zoning code for their own jurisdiction.

The City and County agreed to unify the zoning code in 1993 and it was completed in 1997. The separation was initiated by the Yellowstone County Board of Planning as a step in a multi-year project to update and “modernize” the zoning codes to meet the goals and guidelines adopted through Growth Policies, Neighborhood Plans and other land use policies.

County’s taxable value up 4.6 percent

Originally published in the 8/25/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — The total taxable value of property in Yellowstone County increased 4.6 percent in FY 2016-17.

About half that increase is due to the construction of new property or what might be called the addition of new value to the total of assets in the county.

The balance of the increase in taxable value is the result of revised estimate of the value of existing property.

Only new construction results in increased revenue to county government and other taxing jurisdictions. The taxable value of Newly Taxable Property in FY2017-18 is $8,064,294, compared to $13,971,270 in FY 2016-17.

Yellowstone County’s base levy will generate $785,000 in new

Solar eclipse wows Pompeys Pillar crowd

With their eyes protected by special glasses, a crowd gathered at Pompeys Pillar National Monument (behind group) to watch Monday’s solar eclipse. Ham radio operators used the eclipse to test how radio waves were affected the changes in solar energy. (Jonathan McNiven photo)

Originally published in the 8/25/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News

POMPEYS PILLAR — Monday’s solar eclipse wowed people who gazed up at the sky, but on the ground at Pompeys Pillar, ham radio operators from the Yellowstone Radio Club were listening for responses to their broadcasts at the national monument.

For Bob Hall, a ranger for the Bureau of Land Management and longtime ham radio operator, Monday’s solar eclipse was a mix of the mystical with pure scientific data.

“Hams, by their nature, have a scientific bent,” Hall said. The ham radio operators on Monday were part of a nationwide

County commissioners will ask voters to OK 8-mill levy

Originally published in the 8/4/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — In a unanimous vote, Yellowstone County Commissioners approved a resolution calling for an increase in the Public Safety Mill Levy of 8 mills to be put before the voters on Nov. 7.

County Attorney Scott Twito, whose office will primarily benefit from the additional revenue, made the request of the county commissioners, saying “This is difficult for me.” But, he said, the burden being faced by his office and the continuing increase in felony crimes “hits a lot of area of the office.”

The number of felony cases has