By Michael Howell
The Florence County Water and Sewer District has no facilities, provides no services, holds no existing contracts, has no existing debt, and, if the voters approve, may soon cease to exist. That’s the plan, according to Matt Brainard, president of the District’s board. The County Commissioners have agreed to place the issue of dissolving the District on the November ballot.
The district, which is bounded by Highway 93 and Lost Horse Creek on the south and Tie Chute Creek on the north, was first formed in 1978 and includes about 250 separate parcels. According to Brainard, the District was originally formed to address well water issues in the area. In 1984-85 the District received grant funding for all but $40,000 of the cost to install a water system, but the voters rejected a $40,000 bond levy to cover the remaining costs and the District went dormant for about a decade.
In the early 1990s the District was revived and began to consider installation of a community sewer system. In 1999 a new Board was elected and an effort began to devise a facility plan. But as the planning, engineering and financing of a centralized sewage treatment system began coalescing into an actual building project, a number of district residents expressed concerns about the negative impacts of the system on the community. In 2003 three new Board members were elected. On that same ballot an advisory poll was conducted about the construction of a facility on the proposed site west of the District. Poll results showed that 86% of voters in the district were against the development at the proposed site and 68% were against any centralized sewage treatment facility.
The District then began the process of paying off all past debts and redistributing extra funds to parcel holders in the District. With that process almost complete the Board requested that the County Commissioners hold a mail-in ballot election on the issue of dissolving the district completely. Due to the timing, however, Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg recommended that the issue be placed on the mail-in ballots for the regular general election in November. The Commissioners agreed.