Missoula County Offices Reopened to Public June 1 with Guidelines in Place

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All Missoula County offices reopened to the public on Tuesday, June 1, with the following guidelines in place:  

  • Masks are no longer required of employees, public or clients within county buildings. It is strongly recommended for individuals who have not had the opportunity to or cannot be vaccinated continue wearing masks in public buildings, and the county will continue to have signage encouraging the wearing of masks inside all county facilities. 
  • No individual inquiries as to vaccination status are permitted. Please note that some departments may continue requiring masks in certain areas, such as the detention facility or in clinical settings within the health department and Partnership Health Center. 
  • Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who knows they were exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is asked not to enter county buildingsPeople experiencing symptoms can call 406-258-INFO (4636) or their primary care provider to be screened for possible COVID-19 testing. 
  • To minimize foot traffic in county buildings, visitors are asked to limit bringing family and friends with them, unless they are needed for the intent of the visit. Social distancing will be practiced in county buildings, staff and visitors must be cautious of their surroundings and make every effort to remain at least 6 feet apart. Hand sanitizer will be provided at building entrances and visitors will be encouraged to use it.
  • Virtual services may still be offered in certain departments. It is recommended for visitors to contact the department for operation details. A county directory is available online at www.missoulacounty.us/directory or by calling 406-721-5700.

Reopening information for public-facing Missoula County departments is listed below.

Clerk and Treasurer’s Office, Missoula County Courthouse First Floor, 200 W. Broadway

  • Open, in-person, to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Capacity: 10 people in the lobby, five at the windows in Treasurer’s Office 
  • Appointments are still not allowed, and people are still encouraged to go online to the Clerk and Treasurer’s site for services like motor vehicle registration, renewals and transfers, property tax payments or changes and requests for birth certificates and other records. If you show up in person, you will still get an email or text when they are about 15 minutes away from serving you.  

Clerk of Court’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor

  • Open, in-person, to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • Capacity
    • Customer Service Area: three
    • Public Search Area: one
  • Appointments are preferred, but walkups are accepted. Appointments are required for marriage licenses (use the online marriage application here). The wait time for visitors without an appointment may be longer based upon recommended occupancy levels and as they serve visitors with an appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 406-258-4780 or email clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us. The office recommends no more than one person to attend an appointment but will make accommodations as needed. Visitors with an appointment should enter the line on the right outside the office, while those without an appointment should enter the line on the left.  
  • Self-representing litigants (those without an attorney to represent them) are encouraged to submit paperwork by email (clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us), fax (406-258-4899), mail (Clerk of Court, 200 W. Broadway, Missoula, MT 59802) or drop box (black drop box is located outside the Clerk of Court office door. Blue drop box is located next to the sidewalk on the west side of the courthouse off Woody). The regular fee for email/fax filings will be waived. You can also schedule an appointment. 

Commissioners’ Office, 199 W. Pine St.

  • Open, in-person, to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Capacity 
    • Commissioners’ lobby: three 
    • Sophie Moiese Room: 30 in audience, five up front 
    • Admin 206 Conference Room: four 
    • Admin B14 Conference Room: 10 
  • New doors have been installed on the first floor of the administration building that require keycard entry for security purposes. These will be locked unless the receptionist buzzes you in. 
  • Most commissioner meetings starting mid-June will be hybrid (both on Microsoft Teams and in person) and will take place in the Sophie Moiese room of the courthouse, as opposed to the Admin 206 conference room. 

Community and Planning Services, 127 E. Main St.

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
    • Land use information desk anticipated to open the week of June 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • Construction will be taking place for the next four to six weeks, so many staff will continue to work remotely.  

County Attorney’s Office, Courthouse Fourth Floor

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 

Crime Victim Advocate Program, 317 Woody St.

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Appointments are preferred, but not required 
  • Services are still offered remotely as well as in-person. Advocates are able to meet with clients and provide accompaniment to court; however, they are also able to provide many services over the phone. 
  • Paperwork for people to file an Order of Protection is available for self-serve on the Crime Victim Advocate front porch at 317 Woody St.  
  • For general information, visit www.missoulacounty/cva

District Court, Courthouse Second and Third Floors

  • District Court, which is a function of the state, will begin conducting in-person hearings throughout June. Those with questions should contact their attorney or the courts for additional information.

Elections Center, 140 N. Russell St.

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Construction is taking place in the parking lot for the next little while. To allow for safe access, staff will provide all voter and candidate services in the Election Center warehouse on the east side of the complex, which will be open to pedestrian access only. Street parking will be available, as will a handful of spots in the adjacent Western Montana Mental Health Center parking lot. 

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, 3400 Captain Rawn Way

  • Open, in-person, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 
  • Capacity: 10 visitors in the main museum building 
  • Respectfully ask that people follow the arrows through the galleries. 

Justice Court, Courthouse, First Floor

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • Courtroom requires masks for all who have not been fully vaccinated by order of the Judges.
  • Still operating by Zoom hearings for initial appearances and law and motion, but people can be in person if they wish.
  • Bench trials for civil and criminal and temporary orders of protection (TOPs) are fully in-person.
  • Jury trials will be held if necessary.
  • Weddings can be held in the courtrooms with no capacity limit, but masks are required if needed by order of the Judges. Outdoor weddings are also an option to not have masks.

Missoula County Fairgrounds, 1101 South Ave. W. 

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
  • Construction is taking place, and bathrooms will not be available for the week of June 1, and walls will be in process of being painted. Starting June 7, construction will settle and services will be more accessible.  

Public Works, 6089 Training Drive

  • Open, in-person, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Training Drive office.
  • Seeley Lake Refuse District Office (located at 1708 Woodworth in Seeley Lake) will open Thursday, July 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for building permits. 
  • Capacity: two customers in the Public Works lobby 
  • Changes to the schedule and restrictions may occur. 
  • Email mcpw@missoulacounty.us or call (406) 258-4753 with any inquiries. 

Sheriff’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor 

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • New concealed carry weapons permit applications and fingerprinting will be offered by appointment from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Appointments can be made by calling (406) 258-4810.
  • For Civil Process, please call (406) 258-4802 

The Detention Facility at 2340 Mullan Rd. is also reopening to the public. 

  • Reception will request that all visitors wear masks while in the facility. 
  • Four inmates will be allowed in each visitation room at one time. 
  • Visitors will be limited to three per inmate. 
  • An inmate’s eligibility for on-site visiting is dependent on their current housing assignment.  
  • It is the inmate’s responsibility to convey their availability to visitors for video visits. Video visitation can be scheduled online at icsolutions.com.   
  • There will be two kiosks available to visitors for on-site video visitation.
  • Visitors may deposit cash or make a debit/credit card deposit on the kiosk in the lobby. If they wish to avoid the fee while depositing cash, or if they have a cashier’s check/money order that they would like to deposit, there are envelopes and a safe next to the kiosk in the lobby that they may utilize. Funds will not be added to the inmate account until the end of the next business day. Visitors may still mail funds directly to the facility or make an electronic deposit with their debit/credit card online by visiting www.jailfunds.comMoney orders and cashier’s checks have a limit of $200.00. The inmate’s name, sender’s name and address as well as all appropriate fields must be completed. If all relevant information is not included, the money order or cashier’s check will be returned to sender. Funds can be mailed with the inmate’s name to 2340 Mullan Road – Missoula, MT  59808. Please address the envelope with sender’s return name and address. 
  • Inmates will receive mail Monday through Friday. Mail that is delivered on Saturday will be received on Monday evening. 

 Superintendent of Schools, 438 W. Spruce St. 

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, often closed for lunch if both staff are offsite.  

Weed District and Extension Office, 2825 Santa Fe Court 

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Capacity 
    • Lobby by front desk: two
    • Small meeting room: four
    • Large meeting room: 13 
  • The Plant Clinic, 4-H Youth Development and Family Consumer Sciences are in the office full-time. Field season has started for the Weed District, so staff may not be in the office when you drop by. Make sure to call ahead or schedule an appointment with those at the Weed District office at (406) 258-4200. 

2021 State of the Community: Missoula Renewed

April 12, 2021, City Club Missoula Video

Commissioner David Strohmaier

As some of you have heard me say before, and are probably sick of hearing me say it, whether you live in the city of Missoula or live outside the city limits, we are all residents of Missoula County—all 2,600 square miles of it. And as we think about the future, let’s never forget that the cultural landscape of our county extends back in time to the receding waters of glacial lake Missoula.

Put a pin in that.

This past year has challenged our community in really profound ways that none of us saw coming. Many of us grew up hearing stories from parents or grandparents of living through the Great Depression or World War II, of rationing and collective sacrifice. And while we’ve experienced moments of national trauma since then, many of those experiences have been from the comfort of armchairs, lacking the visceral, shared experience of the pandemic we’re still in. We’ve all lived it and breathed it.

Over the past year, we’ve borne witness to injustice and inequity in our society—even right here in Missoula County. We’ve been separated from loved ones in assisted living facilities, in some cases unable to hold their hands until the light has nearly departed from their eyes. None of us—and I repeat NONE OF US—have gone unscathed.

COVID-19 in Missoula County has brought out the best of folks; it’s also, regrettably, brought out some of the absolute worst, and there is no way to sugar coat that. As difficult as it is, we’ve got to hold both of these realities simultaneously. We absolutely must root out the callousness, indifference, bigotry and hate—personal and systemic—in our community. But let’s also recognize and celebrate the selflessness, beauty and generosity of so many. All in recognition that life is a fragile gift and that we have a choice to embrace life, and do so in a spirit of abundance rather than scarcity.

I believe the state of our community is strong, but it is oh so fragile.

Through it all, I remain optimistic, and am forever grateful to everyone in our community who’s stepped up during this past year to care for one another. It’s been an absolute joy (and, I might add, a hell of a lot of fun) working with Commissioners Slotnick and Vero, whose energy and optimism and creativity is a daily inspiration to me. To date, Missoula County has spent upwards of $20 million addressing the pandemic and associated impacts. Thanks to our Finance Department, and many others, we’ve navigated the federal requirements of the CARES Act and FEMA to cover these costs and avoid retrenchment or local taxpayers covering the financial burden.

My thanks go out to the entire Missoula County team in responding to the pandemic: the Office of Emergency Management, City-County Health Department, Partnership Health Center and first responders who have conducted contact tracing, testing and, now, vaccinations. The same could be said for all our community partners, from hospitals to non-profits to businesses to faith communities. And lest we fail to learn from this experience, we’ve worked with the University of Montana and Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and others to launch the Missoula County COVID-19 Documentation Project so that future generations understand our response to the pandemic.

Our 11 independently elected county officials, and their departments, have really pushed the envelope of creativity during this past year, from our Missoula County Attorney Office’s pretrial diversion program to our Missoula County Treasurer’s Office iSAM and Map Missoula electronic tools. Our IT staff supported remote work for upwards of a thousand users. And the list goes on. We even pulled off a major federal election during these unprecedented circumstances.

Faced with the reality that traditional shelters couldn’t operate at full capacity, we’re proud to have partnered with the United Way and Hope Rescue Mission to stand up the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, a success story that many thought was impossible. Housing remains an acute challenge for our community, which is why we’ve hired a housing coordinator and initiated the process to develop a housing plan for the county.

Our planning and grants staff have been doing double duty, pivoting from their pre-COVID work plan to spin up an emergency rental assistance program, relief fund, and small business job retention fund.

And then there’s the Sx͏ʷtpqyen Neighborhoods Master Plan and BUILD grant implementation, updating our zoning code, launching a Food Policy Advisory Board, planning for the future of our parks and open space, and figuring out how to coexist with fire on the landscape. Climate change has not abated, and neither has our commitment to mitigate and adapt to this global crisis through our 100% clean electricity goal, the Climate Ready Missoula Plan, and solarizing county facilities.

Because we didn’t just hit the pause button during the pandemic, we’re now ready to hit the accelerator as we round this bend. I can’t wait to see you at our rejuvenated fairgrounds this summer, the groundbreaking of the Rocky Mountain Exploration Center (where rumor has it, Jerry Marks will begin his second 50-year tour of duty with Missoula County!), and the opening of our flagship public library.

Finally, we believe that at least part of the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel might very well be . . . you guessed it . . . a passenger train! Last year, Missoula County spearheaded an effort to establish the first passenger rail authority in state history, which came to fruition in November when 12 counties, from Sanders to Wibaux, executed a joint resolution to establish the Authority. The bigger story, I believe, extends beyond rail: namely, it’s still possible to bridge the urban-rural, east-west, red-blue, and ideological divides that have split this state and nation apart.

Back to that thing I put a pin in earlier. Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion must be at the center of everything we do in this county, yet it’s an aspiration we have yet to fully realize. We’ve created a new Community Justice Department, and I’m excited to say that earlier this year we hired our first diversity coordinator, Jamar Galbreath. With the help of our county auditor, we’re reevaluating how even bone-dry procurement policies can be enlivened to address equity.

Before I wrap up, I’d like to share a short video (below), focusing on our strong collaboration with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and remembering that this place has a rich and deep heritage that carries into the future.

In the spirit of gratitude and thanks, I want to recognize the many years of service that Ellen Leahy has provided to the City-County Health Department, and welcome D’Shane Barnett as he assumes the health director role shortly.

The challenge before us, is what have learned? What will we remember? And how can we become more resilient and caring as a community?

Missoula County recognizes the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, remembering that this place has a rich and deep heritage that carries into the future.

Commissioner Dave Strohmaier presented at the April 11, 2021, State of the Community: Missoula Renewed, with City of Missoula Mayor John Engen and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar. Each year, City Club Missoula hosts the State of the Community, an up-close look at three major institutions that shape our community: the city, the county and the University of Montana. The full video is available on the City Club of Missoula’s website.

Missoula County to Award COVID-19 Job Retention Grants to 27 Local Businesses

Missoula County commissioners on Tuesday approved distribution of $624,738 from the COVID-19 Small Business Job Retention Fund to 27 local businesses impacted by the pandemic to help them retain jobs for low- to moderate-income employees.  

Of the grants awarded, 58% went to businesses in the food and drink industry, for a total distribution of $365,000. Twelve percent went to retail businesses, 10% to professional services, 10% to preschool/childcare, 6% to transportation and the remaining 4% to businesses in the lodging industry.  

The 27 recipients experienced an average 45% decline in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic and had to lay off 158 employees. Without the grant funding, it is projected there would be another 166 layoffs in the first three months of 2021. 

“Demand for the funds was overwhelming,” said Melissa Gordon, program manager for Grants and Community Programs. “While the county isn’t able to provide assistance to every business in need, I am hopeful the program will provide the support necessary for grant recipients to retain employment opportunities and stay afloat until the new federal assistance becomes available.”   

In total, the county received 126 applications requesting $2.875 million in funding. The application portal opened at 9 a.m. Dec. 10, and it only took a few hours for the amount of funding requested to exceed the amount available. Applications were considered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The grants are supported through the Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, which are federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds intended to stimulate economic development by providing loans and/or grants to create or retain jobs for low- and moderate-income people. Low- to moderate-income is defined as individuals or families whose household income is up to 80% of the median income for the area when adjusted for family size.  

With the sunsetting of current state and federal COVID-19 assistance programs and the slow winter season just around the corner, commissioners allocated a portion of the available CDBG funds to provide working capital grants to help retain jobs and reduce the significant fiscal impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses and the Missoula workforce. 

Missoula County commissioners seek public comment on proposed budget

Following their preliminary budget hearing on Aug. 13, the Missoula County commissioners are encouraging members of the public to review and provide feedback on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021.  

Missoula County’s preliminary budget for FY21 includes $170.2 million in overall revenue, which is based on certified taxable values the Montana Department of Revenue released earlier this month, as well as available cash savings from previous years.    

The budget calls for overall expenditures of $168.6 million, with much of that going toward sustaining current services and operations, which includes increases in operational expenses and negotiated increases in employee wages.   

Missoula County budgets an average of 2.5% to cover wage increases for the county’s 850 employees, about 85% of whom are covered by collective bargaining agreements. The county bargains those agreements in good faith and was able to honor those agreements this year. The county also continues to work toward paying all permanent employees a minimum, livable wage of $15 an hour. Wages for elected officials and contract employees were largely frozen due to current economic uncertainty.  

Approximately $1.1 million in the preliminary budget would fund new requests to enhance services and operations, such as funding new programs and adding new staff, equipment and technology.  

To minimize the impact on taxpayers, departments must fund all one-time requests with cash savings from the prior fiscal year. A dozen new, ongoing requests would require new property tax dollars. 

Read the detailed list of budget requests online or view the slideshow above.

If adopted as-is, the preliminary budget would mean an estimated property tax increase of $17.34 on a $350,000 home, or $1.45 a month.  

“What we choose to fund is a direct reflection of our values,” said commission Chair Josh Slotnick. “We believe this budget responds to the current needs of our county and also makes smart investments in our future. We encourage the public to take the time to review the budget and let us know your thoughts.” 

The county also anticipates approximately $3.4 million in COVID-19-related expenses in FY21. The county expects these expenses, which include operation of the county testing clinic, emergency operations center, non-congregate shelter and call center, to be reimbursable through CARES Act funding.  

Since Missoula County voters approved a 2-cent per gallon gas tax in June, the preliminary budget does not include any property tax increases for the county road fund. The county will be better able to predict revenue from the gas tax after it goes into effect in October.   

The public is encouraged to review budget documents, which are posted online at http://missoula.co/budgets. In addition to commenting during public meetings, residents can comment by leaving the commissioners a voicemail at 406-258-4877, emailing bcc@missoulacounty.us or mailing comments to the Commissioners’ Office, 200 W. Broadway St. Missoula, MT 59802.    

Commissioners will hold a virtual public hearing on the final budget at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. They will consider any additional public comment before voting to adopt the final budget at an administrative public meeting later that month.  

Missoula County Attorney Appointed to Board of National District Attorneys Association

Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst

The National District Attorneys Association has named Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst to its board of directors as a vice president and member of its executive committee.

“Pabst was chosen because of her leadership and long-standing commitment to criminal justice reforms and prosecutor well-being initiatives,” said NDAA President Nancy Parr. “We welcome her expertise and look forward to working with her.”

“It’s an honor to be chosen to work with such dedicated leaders,” Pabst said. “Criminal justice is at a crossroads on so many levels — racial inequality, gender inequality, mass incarceration – and it is exciting to be in a position to effect positive policy changes, not just at the local and state level, but nationally.”

Pabst has served as county attorney since 2015. She started her career as a prosecutor 25 years ago and has worked with the NDAA as a trial instructor for the past 20 years.

Formed in 1950, NDAA is the oldest and largest national organization representing state and local prosecutors in the country. With more than 5,000 members representing more than two-thirds of the state and local prosecutors’ offices, NDAA is recognized as the leading source of national expertise on the prosecution function and is a valuable resource for the media, academia, government and community leaders. NDAA’s mission is to provide state and local prosecutors with the knowledge, skills and support they need to ensure that justice is done and that public safety rights are protected.

Pabst will also chair NDAA’s new Prosecutor Wellbeing Task Force, designed to develop and disseminate resources, training and peer-to-peer exchanges for prosecutors around the country to promote their health and well-being.