The City of Cut Bank has entered the final phases of their almost 20-year project - a new water system.
The water tank dates back to the early 1970s, Cut Bank. Kim Winchell, Mayor of Cut Bank, said it is well past overdue as most water tanks last only a few decades. The city spent up to $240,000 patching it up in 2002. The price of patching the tank again has tripled.
After waiting over a decade, the price for the new tank along with some repairs will cost up to $4.43 million.
Cut Bank mayor, Kim Winchell stated, "It's a crumbling water tank. We've done as much patching to it as we could in the last 20 years, and it's reached the point where it needs to be completely replaced so that Cut Bank has water."
One of the main concerns is the residents of Cut Bank having to pitch in with a 7-dollar rate increase.
Winchell said, "When the conversations happened with the engineers and City Council years ago, it was discussed that there would be a maximum rate increase of a 7-dollar rate increase to the water rates. Recently by learning that the County had access to a bucket of money through ARPA called a 'minimum allocation grant,' that could only be used for water and sewer projects. They have allowed a resolution passing all of that fund to the citizens of Cut Bank. That will cut the 7 dollars in half to a little over 3 dollars. My goal is to eliminate. that rate-increase all together."
Winchell noted the fact that 7 dollars doesn't seem like a lot, but due to the fact that Glacier County has one of the lowest-median incomes in the state plays a major factor, along with the frustration that the project should've been underway well over 20 years ago. Winchell said this current generation now has to deal with some of these consequences.
The city serves just over 1,000 households and around 3,000 residents.
Winchell said that they are getting the necessary funding to complete this project, and the project design is already complete. Site work is slated to begin this within the next few weeks, with construction of the new tank set for next spring. With the funds the City will receive, Winchell said the city anticipates a 0-$3.50 rate hike, but she is aiming for there to be a zero-dollar rate increase
Winchell added that the project will is expected be complete by the Summer of 2023.
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