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City council approves contract with hospital

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RONAN — At a Ronan City Council meeting on Monday, the city council moved to approve a contract with St. Luke Community Hospital that would charge the Ronan Police Department $300 per sexual assault exam.

“This is a bargain when you look at what everyone else is being charged,” Assistant Police Chief Art Walgren said. 

Walgren explained that police departments across Montana are charged $500 to $700 per sexual assault exam by hospitals. 

Council member Paul Soukup inquired about the number of sexual assault cases the Ronan Police Department investigates annually. 

Walgren reported that in 2008, the Ronan police force investigated six cases and in 2009 there were only three. Walgren also noted that if processed, the defendant is required to pay restitution, including the sexual assault exam fee. But restitution is rarely paid. 

“Where do we come up with that money?” Walgren asked. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

If the city decided not to enter into a contract with the hospital, the hospital has the right to charge the police department whatever they deem appropriate, Walgren said. 

The city council passed the motion to enter into a contract with the hospital, agreeing to the fee of $300 per sexual assault exam. 

The council also discussed the solicitor’s license fees and fines. After passing a motion to create a solicitor’s license in a previous city council meeting, the council discussed fines that will be issued if the ordinance is not obeyed. Mayor Kim Aipperspach suggested that after an initial warning, the first offense would double the original solicitor’s license fee and the second offense would double the first fine. The third fine would include a fine of $500 and other penalties to be decided on by the judge in court. 

The city council members moved to amend the first reading of the ordinance to include the aforementioned fine schedule.

They also discussed the possible placement of commercial licensing signs at the beginning of town. 

Marc Carstens, a surveyor with Sherman and Sherman approached the council in order to receive preliminary approval of phase I. The area is located near the Creamery Mall near U.S. Highway 93. After much deliberation, council members approved the preliminary plan of phase I.

“I think your planning staff and board did a great job on this one,” Carstens said. 

The council then discussed the water project administrator selection. Lake County Community Development Corporation had already been selected by the city to be the project’s administrator, but the offer had not been accepted. The council moved to allow the mayor to enter into negotiations with LCCDC in order to make an offer that is acceptable to both parties. 

The next Ronan City Council meeting will be held on May 10 at 6 p.m. in the Ronan City Hall.

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