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July 10, 2019     Sidney Herald
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July 10, 2019
 

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A 16 SIDNEY HERALD, WEDNESDAY, JULY I 0, 2019 MEETING FROM PAGE 1 representative Mark Hanson said he hopes the. roundtable discussion will move relationships forward be- tween the elected officials and MDU. "We also would like to get an un- derstanding from them what kind of steps are they considering moving forward as we transition from our retired coal plants and can Mon- tana Dakota assist with any of that," Hanson said. "We are looking at this meeting as the beginning of what we hope is open communication with the elected officials in the area." At the end of May, Richland Coun- ty Commissioners and Sidney City Council each issued public state- ments opposing the application of Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) to increase rates for services. The statements, drafted by civil attorney Tom Halvorson, were made as both political entities and individual rate payers. Commissioner Gorder said in May he and his fellow commissioners felt compelled to take a stance on the topic not only to raise public aware- ness, but because of the direct local impact, "It's a big thing to our county. The rates are getting increased due to a wind farm in Hettinger, North Dako- ta, when knowing the future plans were already addressed to close our coal fire MDU plant," Gorder said. "We could sit back and not comment and let the rate increase take place, but I think it's important for people to know." MDU recently filed a new integrate resource plan (IRP) and Hanson said some of those details will be shared at the meeting. He also emphasized the closure of the Lewis and Clark plant and rate increases were not related. "That's what we want to do is share some of those details and hard num- bers in that plan to show here's how we got to our decision," Hanson said. "Within the IRP' is what drives our decisions. Wind expansion is sepa- rate from this, but I understand that they didn't feel it was fair to pay for the expansion without knowing how the [Lewis and Clark] retirement sit- uation fits in." After the discussion, elected offi- cials and MDU reps will remain for a Q&A with the public, scheduled for 4 p.m. A barbecue at MDU's new of- fice location will be hosted at 5 p.m at 1260 East Main Street in Sidney and is open to the community. FROM PAGE 1 Krautter said he's spent some time talking with college students and a lot of them would like to get back to rural areas. He also said across the country, millennials are tending to leave rural areas for urban areas. "It's a complex situation. There's a lot of reasons that lead them to urban areas," Krautter said. Krautter said that the Chamber of Commerce is going to be doing an eco- nomic outlook for the state of Montana this summer in July and August. Krautter also talked about the demographic changes and the fact that baby boomers are reaching retirement and there aren't a lot of young professionals to fill those vacancies in rural America. Krautter feels with rural America declining, there tends to be more consolida- tion, An example he used was Brady, Montana, and the high school there clos- ing down. Because of that, students now have to travel to Dutton to go to school. "When a town is in de- cline, when a town is dying, it becomes harder to recruit to that community," Krautter said. "Who wants to move to a town that's dying?" While HB 405 died, Krautter said he plans to fine tune the bill and try again next session. HB 405 had the support of CPA Association of Montana, the state bar, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, schools, students, the farm- ers union, Montant retail association and many more. "We had a coalition of about a dozen people sup- porting this bill," Krautter said. Krautter said he feels they encouraged the bill well and raised awareness ofthe situation. On the up side, he said that Sidney Joel Krautter speaking at a Kiwanis meeting held sored during Legislature. PHOTO BY NICOLE LUCINA/SIDNEY HERALD on June 27 about different bills he spon- is doing better than most "We wrote it that way, no professionals and teachers. rural areas of Montana. strings attached, because If someone were to leave HB 405 states "rural Mon- we realize not everyone is before their five years were tana is in desperate need in the same position. Not up, they would be respon- for skilled professionals to everyone has student loan sible for paying the state ensure continued sustain- debt," Krautter said. back half of what they ability and survival." The way that HB 405 is would have received had Krautter added to that written, county commis- they stayed. saying people rely on doc- sioners must pass a res-Krautter said they aren't tors, nurses, teachers, olution to participate in too worried about having CPA's, attorneys and many the program and become a large number of people other professions. With a qualifying county. Thenot follow through and the lack of skilled young state will provide 50 per- finish out their five year professionals, it raises the cent of the funding, thecommitment: question of who will fill county commissioners "People who go to college these vacancies, would be responsible for 25 and get degrees are gen- "It's all those professions percent and another orga- erally responsible people. that make our communi- nization such as economic The chances of them skip- ty what we are," Krautter development would put upping out and not paying the said. "We depend on people the remaining 25 percent, state back are lower than if with trade degrees." The pilot program would it were just a random per- If there isn't anyone tohave allowed for $500,000 son," Krautter said. fill those spots, that's when to be set aside for the Catch Another incentive is that small towns start losingand Keep program fund- after the third year, partic- schools and local hospitals, ing. In order to receiveipants in the program qual- creating a negative impact funding, a person would ify for property tax credit. onatown, have to commit to living"We want to encour- "We see a lot of people at and working in their cho- age people to invest in the or around retirement andsen rural area for five community where they're not many people coming up years, living and buy a house," behind them to take the po- Krautter said this bill is Krautter said. "The whole sition," Krautter said. based on one from Kansaspurpose is not to get them HB 405 states the recip-that seems to be workingto stay just for five years ients of the grants under well for them. He's mod-but to get to know the corn- the program can utilize eled this bill after theirs. In munity and build relation- grant money the best wayKansas, through the pro-ships. We want to make they see fit. Some options gram 56 percent stayed for them want to stay beyond of how the grant money the full five years. Of the 56 that five year period." can be used are things like percent that stayed, 100 per- Krautter said that if any- payments on student loans, cent of them were still in one has questions or ideas house down payments, re-the county in year six. on HB 405 he's always location expenses, business The bill also talks about happy to have input. He startup expenses or other filling priority professions, can be reached by email at debt reduction or living Krautter gave examp/es 0T J utter@mtleg.gov or costs, them such as health care by phone at 406-560-5952.