The Roundup -

Infrastructure Priorities Discussed Among Local Officials and Legislators Oct. 31


Executive Director of the Montana Infrastructure Coalition Darryl James, Montana speaker of the House Austin Knudsen, State Representative Scott Staffanson, and State Senate Candidate Steve Hinebach met with officials from Sidney, Fairview, and Richland County on Monday, Oct. 31st.

The roundtable discussion was arranged by Richland Economic Development Corp. and was a follow-up to a meeting held in February, in which all area officials had infrastructure concerns and needs. The goal of the discussion was to identify the top challenges of the community and determine how to solidify priorities to the upcoming legislature. Among those in attendance on the 31st were Sidney Mayor Rick Norby, Fairview Mayor Bryan Cummins, and Richland County Commissioners, who were asked to list their top three infrastructure priorities and discuss their concerns with state legislators.

The city of Sidney’s top priority is the completion of the lagoon, which is in its second phase, followed by a need for a new or updated water treatment plant, and new sprinkler systems in city parks.

The town of Fairview’s greatest infrastructure need is the replacement of their cast iron water main, street and gutter improvement and repairs, and drainage and sewer issues.

Richland County’s greatest infrastructure priorities are the lagoons in Savage and Lambert, as well as the street repair in both towns. They also discussed the possibility of a combined Firehall and Senior Center in Fairview to meet federal and state regulations.

The greatest challenge continues to be addressing aging infrastructure with limited state funding and costly and ever-changing regulations, without increasing taxes.

James discussed the need to generate more funds specifically for infrastructure improvement across the state, as well as allowing communities to prioritize their greatest infrastructure needs and allot that money accordingly without state overreach.

Potential solutions such as a fuel tax, resort tax, and even funding from the Coal Trust were talked about; once elections are over, legislators will have a better idea of what they’ll be working with, or against, to address infrastructure issues.


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