The Policy Coordinating Committee that serves Yellowstone County and Billings approved the 2020 Billings Urban Area Unified Planning Work Program for the planning department, this month.
The Work Program lays out the budget, and priority transportation and land use projects that the planning department staff will be focused upon in 2020. Scott Walker, the transportation coordinator for the planning department, presented the plan during the monthly meeting of the PCC which is comprised of a county commissioner, the mayor of Billings, Chairman of the Planning Board, and the Montana Department of Transportation manager in Billings.
Among the projects that are top priorities to be advanced in the new fiscal year will be the Billings Bypass which will begin construction in October; continued design of the proposed Inner Belt Loop; and an update of the Growth Policy which directs future land use in the county.
Budget for the planning department in 2020 will be $2,659,085, slightly less than the 2019 budget of $2,786,000.
Revenues come from several sources: Fees charged by the planning department for development in the city is expected to generate $240,000; fees for development in the county, $57,000; a mill levy imposed on property tax payers will generate $490,000 and from the federal government’s transportation agencies will come $1,872,085.
Other projects on the planning department’s agenda are continuing, including the update of the 2018 transportation plan, completing a traffic model, planning the placement of way-finding signs for bike trails, updating the pedestrian/bike trail map required by the federal government, 5th Avenue corridor feasibility study.
The plan includes the Billings transit department, priorities for which were presented by new supervisor, Rusty Logan. Some of those priorities include developing grants for the purchase of new buses, technology and facility; continued development of the transit asset management plan; analysis of the possibility of extending service to Lockwood and Laurel.
The planning department has 11 staff members.
The Billings Urban Area Unified Planning Work Program was previously approved by the Planning Board, which oversees the Planning Department; the Billings City Council and Yellowstone County Commissioners.
The PCC is the Billings/Yellowstone County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) which is mandated by the federal government for communities with populations of 50,000 or more in order to receive federal funding for transportation projects. The Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration are non-voting representatives of the PCC, and representatives usually telecommunicate to monitor its meetings.