Email details dispute between towns
A terse email from Elmer City Mayor Gail Morin to Coulee Dam Mayor Greg Wilder on wastewater treatment billings is raising a stink between the two towns.
She wrote, “Thank you for demonstrating Coulee Dam’s imbedded lack of interest in a good faith agreement,” Morin wrote. “We need to look at invoices/receipts after learning that 108 tubes of
grease were charged to the plant. It isn’t unreasonable to verify what we are buying. No one pays bills without knowing what they are purchasing. Our requests are honest and reasonable.”
Elmer City is 40 years into a 50-year agreement with Coulee Dam to receive and treat its
sewage. Morin included The Star when sending her email.
Morin continued: “Coulee Dam finds Elmer City’s inquiries and verification requests offensive and/or irritating and are dismissed with sarcasm, one-sided interpretations, penalties and refusals. One of the threats was shutting off the valve from the Elmer City flow until we pay the bill.”
Asked to comment on the email, Wilder called the issue “childish.” He said the towns ought to go “into binding arbitration on the issues or get together and forge a new agreement.”
Wilder was highly regarded by Elmer City officials when he was helping them fight the $4.92 million wastewater treatment plant project in Coulee Dam, but things changed when he became Coulee Dam’s mayor.
“Coulee Dam has made huge strides in itemizing Elmer City’s monthly bill, and we even gave them a six-year credit on one of the charges,” Wilder said.
Wilder is on the other side of the fence now that he has to guard issues relating to Coulee Dam’s budget.
Morin added, “We did not and will not agree to further budget based gouging. All of the wage/benefits and other increases for the WWTF in the last 15 years or more were made to benefit the Coulee Dam general budget. Elmer City was excluded from the budget process. When we did question the increases we were given excuses and fabrications.
“We will need to see proof of actual expenditures for the requests made in January of this year for the previous six years. …
“We are no longer trusting and unquestioning patrons. We are requesting information because we have absolutely no confidence in receiving a fair bill now or in the future from the Town of Coulee Dam.
“Have a good day.”
Wilder stated: “My objectives are in sync with those of Elmer City, and that is strict compliance with the interlocal agreement.”
Elmer City has become convinced that it would be more cost effective to “go it alone” and develop its own wastewater treatment system. It currently is working with the Colville Tribes and Indian Health Services in doing an alternative analysis to determine just that.
A week ago Coulee Dam started the same process.