Commissioners Rescind County State of Emergency

Flathead County never tapped into emergency funds during the nine-month-long state of emergency

By Micah Drew
Flathead County Courthouse. Beacon File Photo

The Flathead County Commission voted unanimously at their Dec. 22 meeting to rescind the state of emergency declaration made nine months earlier in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 16, prior to the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county, then Flathead City-County Public Health Officer Hillary Hanson, the incident commander for the virus response, requested the commissioners declare a state of emergency in order to access special funding from local, state and federal resources.

Two days later, the commissioners unanimously voted for the measure, allowing access to the county’s $269,000 emergency and disaster fund.

“We have decided to rescind that resolution and then put it on the back burner,” commissioner Pamela Holmquist said. “We’ve been able to cover our expenses with other funds, and we have not spent any of the funds in our emergency funds which is a good thing for our community.”

The county received additional funding to aid its coronavirus response from the federal CARES Act, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and other sources, negating the need to draw from the emergency coffers.

“Not knowing for sure what was going to happen with the COVID … we wanted to be prepared in case we needed the funds we had saved up in case of such an emergency,” Holmquist said. “If we do feel that we have to dip into those funds in the future, we can do a state of emergency again.”

Whitefish declared a state of emergency on March 18, and Kalispell did so on April 5, allowing the cities to access their own emergency funds if necessary.

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