Commissioners Vote to End SAWS Discussion

Sheridan County's commissioners voted Tuesday to end talks about dissolving the Sheridan Area Water Supply joint powers board.

Action came in a special meeting of commissioners with County Attorney Matt Redle and SAWS attorney Tony Wendtland. Steve Maier, who made the motion, said the county is no longer interested in pursuing dissolution of the joint powers board.

SAWS officials for several months have been discussing the possibility of dissolving the SAWS board and consolidating the SAWS system under the city of Sheridan. Responding to a question from Redle, Wendtland said if that happened, the city would become sole owner of all SAWS assets, including water rights that the county transferred to the rural water system.

He said without the SAWS joint powers board, the city would have to enter into 10-year agreements to provide water to customers on the rural water system. He said that's because if the joint powers board goes away, the only state law that would apply is one that limits cities to 10-year contracts for sales of water outside their municipal boundaries.

He also said legally, if SAWS didn't exist, the city at some point could decide to not sell water outside city limits.

Wendtland also reminded commissioners of a letter he wrote to the SAWS board last September, in which he said without the joint powers board, SAWS customers would be effectively disenfranchised, because they can't vote for city officials. The SAWS board consists of three city councilors and three county commissioners.

He also said that there are loans that SAWS is repaying to various agencies, and Wyoming's attorney general would have to decide whether those loans could be transferred in event that the SAWS board is dissolved.