The lengthy dispute over financing of operations at the community swimming pool is over.
Havre City Council unanimously approved an agreement Monday night that will end the four-year lawsuit and 10-year dispute over how much the Hill County government should pay.
The county will pay the city $20,000 a year under a three-year contract, according to the deal that Mayor Tim Solomon proposed to the council. The understanding is that unless the county faces serious economic problems, the contract will be automatically extended after three years, the mayor said.
“Everybody would like to see more from the county,” said Councilman Allen “Woody” Woodwick, who made the motion to adopt the mayor’s proposal.
But a bigger payment from the county “would mean more money from my pocket, too,” he said.
“I think it’s time we moved forward and put this behind us,” he said.
Other lawmakers echoed his thoughts.
Legal costs from the protracted court proceedings cost more than whatever the city could get from a higher county contribution, they agreed.
Even Councilman Andrew Brekke, who was a member of the committee that supported filing the lawsuit, said it was time to come to a settlement.
“There has been a lot of emotion on both sides,” he said.
“It’s time to stop the bleeding of the taxpayer dollars,” he said of the continuing legal costs.
Solomon said Councilman Jerry Veis, who was excused from the meeting, told him he wanted the city to hold out until it got $25,000 and a five-year contract, but the six members who were present for the meeting were unanimous in approving the out-of-court settlement.
Councilwoman Janet Trethewey said the city ought to look for other ways of saving money, including developing more energy-efficient policies, including installation of solar panels or construction of a windmill on the roof.
She said city and county officials could meet with representatives from Montana State University-Northern, which recently closed its pool, could look at other possibilities.
Councilman Robert Kaftan asked that the city send a letter to the county thanking them for their spirit of cooperation. The mayor said he would do that.