In August 2020, the county commissioners appointed me to the Heights Water Board. The commissioners had heard multiple complaints from business owners about the fees charged and the difficulty working with the Water District. Water District Board President Wynn Pippin told MTN News that in her 20 years on the board, no one has ever come before the board to question its fees. I know that’s not true because I questioned the fees at a board meeting on Dec. 11, 2019.
What are the differences? Pizza Ranch in the Heights is $40,345 vs. the Pizza Ranch on King Avenue, which is $11,295; Medicine Crow Middle School is $220,606 vs. Ben Steele Middle School which is $149,130. Water service to redevelop a residential site with existing water was estimated to cost $3,678 to $7,986 in the Heights vs. $190 in the City of Billings.
This spring, registered voters living in the Water District service area or an owner of taxable real property will elect three board members. Nonresident property owners need to request a ballot from the Yellowstone County Election department before 5 p.m. on April 9.
The County Water Board of Billings Heights has not been responsive to constituents and failed to work with the staff to develop reasonable fee schedules for residential and commercial development. It is time to bring transparency and opportunity for improved economic development by electing new board members. I’m casting my ballot for Josh Benson, Ming Cabrera, and Laura Drager. Together, we can make a difference.