Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Don Larson
Seeley Lake, Mont. 

Don't miss the meeting - engage and understand


SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Sewer Board has drawn up a draft “user agreement” for we sewer district residents. That’s the agreement between the board and we “customers” which must be in place before we receive sewer service. It is complicated, technical and full of legal jargon. We must understand it completely before we sign up.

The board has called a meeting for 5:15 p.m., Thursday, June 6 at the Seeley Lake Elementary School. Sewer District residents should consider this important meeting a “must attend” event. We can ask questions and try to understand what’s being offered. The lawyers for both sides will be there to help explain the document.

As usual, the Board seems to have the cart before the horse. The proposed agreement is subject to the “rules and regulations” drawn up by the Board to govern sewer activities. It has only a 70-page rough draft of these regulations, so from the get-go we have no idea what we’re signing up for. It is highly probable these regulations will not be fleshed out before the Aug. l deadline for signing a user agreement.

The Board has yet to definitively tell us what this albatross of a project will cost. There’s the debt service on the loans to build the system, that will be on your property tax statement. Then there’s the monthly operation and maintenance (O & M), that will be a monthly statement. It looks like bills will approach $100 a month for sewer service and the system will near $30 million in total cost.

The board just recently doubled the administrative fee intended initially to “study” the project from $79 to $154 a year, so add that $12.83 cost to your monthly bill before you ever get sewer service. It goes on and on.

Here are some other problems:

• It is unclear why this agreement was mailed to only residents in sub-district (phase) one, even though the other three sub-districts will be governed by it.

• It is still unclear how much residents in sub-districts two, three and four will be paying for the system versus sub-district one which will be the first to be sewered.

• It is still unclear about how much residents will be charged to hook up if they do not sign up by the Aug. 1 deadline. (Hook up is free if you sign up before the deadline)

• It is still unclear what you will be charged when the sewer main runs by your residence, even though you elected not to sign up.

What IS clear is the Sewer Board has consistently skewed this project to favor business interests at the expense of the low income residents and continues to do so.

Make plans to attend the Thursday evening and hear the Board defend and argue this agreement.


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