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Commissioners take another step toward privatizing MetraPark management

Posted at 11:47 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 08:20:54-04

BILLINGS - Yellowstone County commissioners voted 2-1 this week to put out a request for a proposal for private management at MetraPark.

Two commissioners favor going ahead with finding how much it will cost while one commissioner says it's best to wait.

Commissioners received a report on qualifications and information on two companies, OVG360 and ASM Global.

"We rejected those because we could have actually put those into contracts but our legal counsel said, let's go to a request for proposal," Commissioner Don Jones.

Commissioner Don Jones and outgoing Commissioner Dennis Pitman voted at the commission meeting on Tuesday to have additional reports with companies submitting proposals.

Meanwhile, Commissioner John Ostlund voted no, saying a committee made up of the finance director, a lawyer from the county attorney's office, and the MetraPark board president all recommended not seeking proposals.

"Because we'd have two contracts in place and one with OVG that is a booking agreement and the other what they found a manage so their recommendation was that we wait three years for this contract to expire," Ostlund said.

The OVG booking agreement is in place and is separate from managing MetraPark.

Ostlund says both companies put out information and continuing with the process will give OVG360 an advantage over ASM global

"There's a definite unfair advantage to OVG after they've reviewed their competitor's proposal and the chairman has pushed from day one for OVG to have the contract, " Ostlund said.

Jones is the current commission chair and says he does not favor either company.

"I made the motion to negotiate with ASM and I didn't get a second from Commissioner Pittman, or Commissioner Ostlund," Jones said. "So I think either company is very competent and I think either one of them could do it and I don't have a preference."

Both Jones and Ostlund said they have a concern for how this affects MetraPark employees. The two disagree on whether or not the process is moving too fast.

Mark Morse defeated Pitman in the Republican primary in June.

"A lot of the patrons, a lot of the user group and a lot of the vendors are concerned that this rush is because we will take a second look at it when Mark Morse comes in in January," Ostlund said.

"We've got to make a decision," Jones said. "We've dragged this thing out and we need to figure out what the course is, you know for the next how many ever years."