Congress is in the public eye a lot lately for its stalemate with President Barack Obama over the mandated cuts that resulted from last year’s pre-election deal.
But Havre has had its own version of political stalemate, the decade-long battle over who should pay how much for the operation of the community swimming pool.
The debate gets into complicated technicalities, but the long and short of it is the city has wanted Hill County to pay more and the county has wanted to pay less to the city.
The debate has been loud. It’s been argued out in court, in City Council chambers and in the pages of the Havre Daily News.
New administrations have taken over at city hall and the county courthouse since the early days of the political brawl. Things have been a bit more civil, and Monday night, the city approved a deal.
All along, the city and county have been a bit more practical than their counterparts in Washington. The pool has not been sequestered, and swimmers have been going about their business seemingly unaware of the political brouhaha taking place next door at City Hall.
Under the deal proposed by the county and accepted by the city, the county will pay $20,000 a year to the city under a three-year deal. That’s much closer to the county’s most recent offer, but city officials say they have been spending a lot of money on lawyers’ fees that could better have been used on the swimming pool.
The city and the county are in this rodeo together. Both governments should be searching out new jobs for the area, seeking federal funds to pay for needed human services and fighting for greater recognition for the Hi-Line from Helena.
The grand flap over the swimming pool has been getting in the way of these far more important measures.
In recent years, cooler heads seem to be working on the problem. They have prevailed.