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Yellowstone County Commissioners discuss possibility of privatizing MetraPark

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Posted at 6:48 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 20:48:23-05

Yellowstone County Commissioners have been discussing the possibility of privatizing management of MetraPark but much is still up in the air.

“So we’re really looking if there’s an opportunity to look at privatization and figure out what those advantages are, this is the time. So we want to get that information, find out what they would bring to the table and if somebody doesn’t work or it doesn’t work out, then we’ll move on,” said Commissioner Don Jones.

Jones believes there’s much to be benefited by privatizing MetraPark’s management.

“One of them is that they bring a lot of resources to the table, right now we’re kind of a stand-alone, we manage it independently,” said Jones.

Long-time MetraPark general manager Bill Dutcher disagrees.

“Well I don’t think there are benefits for privatizing,” said Dutcher.

The idea of privatization isn’t a new concept.

“They went through this process over 16 years ago before I got this job and I'm in my sixteenth year. We're closing at the end of 16 years, and they had a nationwide review come out, which recommended at that time, local control of the facility,” said Dutcher.

Dutcher said that MetraPark has been operating on its own for years. One of the biggest downsides from his perspective is that his employees are caught in the crossfire.

“We’re one of the few places that have one staff, that works year-round, on the fair,” said Dutcher.

Jones believes the timing for privatization is now.

“The timing is perfect, we need a new ticketing system, we’re having some real challenges with our current one. We have a new general manager that we need to replace, what that management looks like. We have a grade A general manager who’s stepping up, and we just said today that he will be the interim if we actually have some crossover," said Jones.

Jones says there’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to whether or not current employees at MetraPark will lose their jobs.

“We’re not going to be able to do it without employees,” said Jones.