Mills Mayor Upset Over Inaction On Aging Waterline
Mills Mayor Seth Coleman in a written statement said there has been a lack of action to address an aging waterline installed in the 1960s.
The specific pipe partially falls within the jurisdiction of Mills, which overlaps with the Wardwell district after Mills annexed unincorporated territory.
Coleman is upset about a lack of action being taken by Wardwell to address issues with their pipes and their unwillingness to work with the city of Mills to address the problem.
On Monday, Wardwell and the Central Wyoming Regional Water filed a complaint against Mills.
The civil complaint filed in Natrona County District Court is looking at the constitutionality of an emergency ordinance issued by Mills requiring water systems, like those operated by Wardwell, to sign a contract to operate in Mills.
Coleman said as far as he knows, the ordinance, which has since been codified, would only apply to Wardwell and Central Wyoming Regional Water.
The ordinance states that systems operating in the town must obtain an annual license to operate in the town for a fee of $150,000 and if a system violates the ordinance, pay a fine of $10,000 per day.
Alia Scott, a lawyer representing the Wardwell district in their suit against Mills, said she is unsure why Mills issued the emergency ordinance other than to make a profit.
Coleman said the reason Mills issued the ordinance is not to make money but to address the costs involved with maintaining public utilities.
Scott said she has not received a response when she attempted to get the contract outlined in the ordinance and have not received notice of a fine.
While Mills is working to replace part of their pipeline, Scott said Wardwell is planning on spending $1.1 million to replace aging pipes along Blair lane.
Coleman said Mills and Bar Nunn were able to collect enough signatures on a petition to get the county commissioner to consider dissolving Wardwell, but said they have not gotten a response after around two months.
Scott said the petition to dissolve Wardwell was given to the county commissioner and they ruled that the county does not have the jurisdiction to dissolve Wardwell.
If Mills and Bar Nunn did want to dissolve Wardwell, Scott said she thinks the customers of Wardwell need to decide whether to dissolve or not.
Eric Nelson, Attorney for Natrona County, did not wish to comment on the status of the petition to dissolve the Wardwell district.
Coleman said having Wardwell overlap in certain areas creates an extra level of bureaucracy and adds additional taxes onto the citizens of Mills.
While Mills is not able to replace all of the aging water infrastructure, Coleman said the town has spent around $120,000 so far on moving the road that the current pipes sits on.