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Billings attorney files complaint over MetraPark private management bids

Posted at 10:35 PM, Sep 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 09:26:12-04

BILLINGS - A Billings resident has filed a formal complaint asking that the Yellowstone County commissioners to not sign a contract for private management at MetraPark.

That complaint was filed in Yellowstone County District Court on Tuesday.

The complaint alleges that commissioners had been in contact with OVG, one of the companies that ultimately put in a bid to manage Metra, during the process.

"At least one commissioner's records has a continued course of contact," said Gene Jarussi, a Billing attorney. "And there is enough other information in emails and some phone records that indicate a second commissioner is also involved."

Jarussi said there has been contact with OVG since 2019.

He states that Montana is a public participation state, and public notice laws have been violated.

All three commissioners Dennis Pittman, Don Jones and John Ostlund referred MTN News to the county attorney's office.

"The county is looking into all of Mr. Jarussi's concerns and we'll do our best to address them as more information becomes available," said Jeana Lervick, Yellowstone County chief legal deputy county attorney.

The county did receive one other bid from ASM Global.

But Jarussi alleges there was contact between commissioners and OVG for the request for proposals and before the booking agreement that the county has with OVG in a separate contract.

"I think this continuing course of contact is what ultimately led OVG to be the only one that submitted a bid for the booking agreement that was signed a year ago," Jarussi said.

Jarussi's filing states that commissioners Pittman and Jones had contact during the request for qualifications and says contact me a favored OVG.

"The county never has intended to look at all options," Jarussi said. "That privatization of the management has been a foregone conclusion and I think that the company OVG seems to be a foregone pick."

Jarussi has asked the court to declare the RFP process invalid, to prohibit the county and OVG from entering into a contract for management of MetraPark and to prohibit the county from entering into a contract with any private entity for the management of MetraPark.

"This is such a big deal that has such ramifications for Yellowstone County," Jarussi said.

As of now, commissioners say they'll review the bids and the process will continue.