The Hearing With The County Commissioners

You should have already discussed the hearing process and a timetable with the clerk and commissioners. The hearing has to occur whether you go through a petition or resolution process.

Hearing Date

The county commissioners are required by law to set a time and place for a hearing before passing a resolution. The hearing can be part of a regular county commission meeting.

Hearing Itself

This is an opportunity for the public to speak about their concerns with the districting project. MCA 22-1-702 requires the commissioners to hear testimony about:

  • whether a district should be created
  • the proposed boundary, the property tax mill levy, and the number of members of the board of trustees
  • any other matters relating to the proposed district

Hearings may be formal, where speakers must sign up at the beginning of the meeting, and each person is only allowed to speak once. Or they may be informal, where people are allowed to speak back and forth on the issue. Find out how your county commissioners normally conduct hearings, and prepare accordingly.

People who oppose the district will attend and speak at the hearing, so have proponents of the district speak at the hearing. Here are some hints about how to make a good impression:

  • Ask community leaders to be present and speak in favor of the district.
  • Put together a team of speakers to address different issues.
  • Ask people to come to the hearing, even if they do not wish to speak.
  • Anticipate the arguments that will be made against the district and plan on answering them.
  • Ask that your most knowledgeable speakers be allowed to present last, if people are only allowed to talk once. This lets them answer any arguments against the district.
  • Hold a practice session a week before the hearing. Have all those who plan to speak give their presentation. Have a devil's advocate speak against the formation of a district.

After the hearing, county commissioners have two options:

  • Adopt a resolution which sets the boundaries of the district, the maximum mill levy, and the number of members on the board of trustees; and schedules an election on the question, or,
  • Decline to move forward on the district if they are not convinced by the results of the hearing that the issues surrounding the proposed district have been satisfactorily addressed.

Existing Public Libraries and the Hearing

Public libraries not interested in consolidating with the district should indicate so as part of the public hearing process. Those libraries that are interested in consolidating with the district should talk to their governing body. The governing body of the city or county needs to hold a hearing to discuss whether or not the library should be included in the district. If the governing body determines that the library should be included in the district, it needs to adopt a resolution following the public hearing. See MCA 22-1-705 for more information.

ASPeN: The New Library Directory

Events Calendar