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Three Missoula City Council members vote to default on city’s insurance policy

Posted at 2:38 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 16:38:16-05

Three members of the Missoula City Council on Monday voted to default on the city’s insurance policy by not paying the deductible to cover damages incurred last year at Ogren Park after a summer downpour hit before a popular concert .

As they did last week, conservative council members Jesse Ramos, Sandra Vasecka and John Contos voted against portions of the claims owed by the city, this time relating to what it owed as part of its insurance policy.

Ramos said he didn’t believe the city should pay the deductible owed to its insurer, and freshman council member Sandra Vasecka agreed.

“I would like to agree with Mr. Ramos,” she said. “I don’t think the city should have to pay for a concert.”

Last summer, a torrential downpour preceded a Mumford and Sons concert at Ogren Park. The soggy field sustained damage from thousands of concert-goers, resulting in the cancellation of several Missoula Osprey baseball games.

Logjam Presents and city officials said the damage was caused by the ill-timed rainstorm. The city’s insurer, MMIA, covered the $35,000 bill, while the city owed $10,000 on the deductible, which it voted to pay Monday night.

“This was from the summer concert last year at Osprey stadium where the rain deluge hit and it compromised the field and baseball wasn’t able to play for several games,” said council member Gwen Jones.

“There was a business interruption, basically, and this is how it plays out. It’s one of those things you wished didn’t happen, but it happened. This is the course it takes.”

Built in 2004, Ogren Park is owned by the city of Missoula and had been under lease to Mountain Baseball, owners of the Missoula Osprey, for $120,000 per year.

But the lease proved burdensome and baseball alone couldn’t pay the bill, threatening the future use of the facility. As part of a deal reached with the city, Logjam agreed to pay $70,000 annually for use of the stadium a handful of times each year while Mountain Baseball paid $40,000 a year.

Combined, the two covered the facility’s annual lease while an additional $10,000 was to be raised for city maintenance through a dedicated surcharge placed on ticket sales. The agreement was billed by all as a winning recipe and a good use of the municipal facility.

Logjam invested roughly $200,000 into facility improvements heading into the first concert season last year. Its concerts serve as a boon to the local economy and attract tens of thousands to Missoula each year.

But Ramos and Vasecka believe Logjam should be responsible for the entire $35,000 in damages, even while they pay only a portion of the lease. Contos voted with them but said nothing about his vote.

City Attorney Jim Nugent clarified the costs.

“There was a claim made against our property insurer,” Nugent said. “They paid the $25,000 and the city had to pay the deductible, which is always the first $10,000.”

Eight other council members agreed to pay the city’s deductible.