Libby Mayor gives State of the City address
Mayor Tony Berget
Libby Mayor Tony Berget talks about the state of the city. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Guest Speaker at Libby Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon
by Brent Shrum, Kootenai Valley Record
January 15, 2008
Residential construction boomed in Libby in 2007, according to figures released last week by Mayor Tony Berget during his annual State of the City address at a luncheon hosted by the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce.
There were 55 building permits issued in the city in 2007, up from 47 in 2006. Of those, 38 were residential with a construction value of over $1.86 million. That compares to 21 residential permits in 2006 with a construction value of $449,000. Last year’s construction included 12 new homes and one duplex, up from two new homes in 2006.
“It tells you that people are buying into our future and really believe that Libby has a future,” Berget said.
Commercial construction was down somewhat from 2006, with 17 building permits issued for a value of $1.5 million compared to 25 permits with a value of $2.7 million. The largest project in 2007 was the new ambulance barn at the corner of Third Street and Montana Avenue, which Berget called “impressive.”.
“They were in a tiny little shack for years, so it’s about time they had something a little nicer,” he said.
Berget reviewed several major projects under way by the city, including the ongoing effort to replace worn-out water mains. An engineer’s report on the state of Libby’s water system estimated the total cost at $22 million.
“The only way you can do it that I can see right now is replace sections of water main,” Berget said.
The city has been trying to replace a couple of blocks every year, he said. Replacement of Montana Avenue’s mains, which has been the focus for the past few years, is nearly complete, Berget noted.
The city’s water treatment plant treated more than 486 million gallons of water in 2007, Berget said.
Although Libby’s sewer mains are in comparatively good shape, the city is trying not to neglect them and has been making replacements as needed, Berget said.
The city limits expanded with the annexation of Cabinet Heights, and the golf course at Cabinet View Country Club grew from nine holes to 18.
The city is working on plans to build a new pavilion at Riverfront Park and to make other improvements to the road and landscaping. A multi-purpose facility like Troy’s Roosevelt Park is the ultimate goal, Berget said.
“That could be a beautiful park for years and years to come,” he said.
Libby’s street crews were busy last year fixing potholes, sweeping streets in the summer, and rebuilding the street in front of the new ambulance barn, Berget said. They plowed snow five times, used about 10,000 gallons of de-icer, and hauled 358 truckloads of snow to the dump.
The street department bought its first new piece of equipment in years, a front-end loader, in 2007.
“We’ve been keeping junk on the road for years,” Berget said.
There were 76 burials at the city cemetery this year, with graves dug by the street crews, Berget said.
A new video conferencing system was installed at the city court to allow incarcerated defendants to appear before the judge without having to be taken across town between the jail and the courtroom. The court filed 772 offenses and 101 parking tickets and held five jury trials in 2007.
One of those 101 tickets was written to the mayor himself. Berget’s car was towed in December when it was parked on the street at night in violation of the city’s snow plowing ordinance. He paid a $25 ticket and an $85 towing bill.
“They had 27 cars they towed, so on the other hand maybe they’re not yelling at me as bad because they know I had to pay those prices too,” Berget said.
Editor’s Note: See the January 14, 2008 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, on Monday, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail email@example.com.