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Library, city council work out rental details

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RONAN – If a renter agrees to be held accountable for the upkeep of the interior of a building and the building’s owner agrees to be held accountable for the exterior of the building, who is liable when equipment on the outside of the building that is responsible for heating the inside breaks? This is one of many questions the Ronan Library Board of Trustees and the Ronan City Council worked through in two separate, hours-long meetings last week. 

The Ronan Library District, which will allow the library to separate itself from the city, was formed by voters this summer, but tax revenue from the district won’t come in until later this month. The board and library want to be officially separate at the end of December, which leaves the district and the council scrambling to hammer out final details. 

The council agreed to let the library rent its current building for $10 per year. The library will pay the price of utilities in return. Approving rental terms were necessary so the library can seek a loan, attorney Phil Grainey explained. 

Payment of insurance, transfer of employee hours, and upkeep of the exterior portion of the building all had some sticking points that slowed down the negotiation process, but the council and board agreed to meet Dec. 16 to hammer out the finer details of the agreement. 

In other business: 

• Council members told new Police Chief Val Maxwell that they would not look favorably upon him seeking part-time employment with the Mission Police Department. Maxwell said the decision was financially motivated, and that he had underestimated the cost of living in Lake County. Mayor Kim Aipperspach suggested altering the policies and procedures manual at a later date so a rule is in place to discourage the chief of police from seeking alternative employment. There is currently no rule in place preventing secondary employment, and the council acknowledged that members of other city departments have had second jobs at times. 

• The council agreed to interview seven of 25 people who applied for the job of police officer. Of the seven final applicants, three have served on the reserve police force. Aipperspach said that one of the reserve officers had served less than one year as a reserve officer, so the town might be able to hire him under a law that allows Montana police officers to work up to one year before being sent to the police academy. The two other former reserve officers have worked with the department for more than one year and would need to attend the Montana Law Enforcement Academy immediately, Aipperspach said. City Attorney Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson disagreed. She argued the three applicants had served as reserve officers and never worked as full-time police officers, so they might not have to attend the academy immediately. The city council disbanded its reserve officer program earlier this year as part of legal fallout that resulted from the disaccrediting of its former chief of police. 

Interviews for officer candidates were scheduled for this week.

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