The sixth-cent specific use sales tax that will be on the ballot in Big Horn County in November has been viewed by some opponents as a way to fund wants rather than needs in various communities. But for municipalities in north Big Horn County’s smallest communities, the sales tax is seen as the only way to get some badly needed projects completed.
Frannie Mayor Jack Cordner and Deaver Town Clerk Vana Camp said in interviews Tuesday that the sales tax is a funding mechanism that would allow projects the towns have needed for many years to finally come to fruition. Without it, they are simply too small to generate enough revenue to even match a grant, they said.
Frannie is seeking $1,262,655 from the sales tax, most of which is to fund an irrigation well that has slowed to a trickle in recent years. The rest is for a pickup for public works that would see double duty as a snow plow in the winter.
The pickup, a Ford F350, is expensive at $46,405, but Cordner said the F350 is one of the few vehicles manufactured that can take a snow plow kit without voiding the warranty. He said the truck would back up the town back hoe for plowing.
The real need, he said, is the town’s irrigation well, either repairing the existing well or replacing the well.
Cordner explained that the well started producing water in 1955, a year after the town was incorporated. It was originally drilled by a man by the name of Kirk and was thus registered as Kirk #1. It was drilled with the expectation of hitting oil, Cordner said, but the well – some 4,800 feet deep – produced water instead. Kirk sold the well to the town, which then developed Frannie’s first water system.
The well was the town of Frannie’s potable water supply until the Shoshone Municipal Pipeline was completed in 1991. Around that time, Cordner said, the Environmental Protection Agency tested the well water and declared that it was no longer suitable for human consumption.
After the Shoshone Municipal Pipeline was constructed, the town added surface valves for each water customer to allow the well water to be used for irrigation. Homes in Frannie have two water lines each, Cordner said, a line for irrigation and a line for drinking water.
The problem is, the irrigation water volume has steadily diminished over the years, from some 2,000 gallons per minute when the well was drilled in 1955 to 150 gallons per minute currently because, over the years, the well casing has developed holes and debris has entered the well, so not only has the casing corroded and sprung leaks, debris is gradually plugging the well.
Cordner said the well needs to be fixed.
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