Joint press release from the Lake County Commissioners and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Contact: Shane A. Morigeau, CSKT Deputy Executive Officer, Public Affairs & Communications
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council and the Lake County Commission announced an historic agreement to reduce the financial impact on local taxpayers and improve the delivery of services in Lake County and on the Flathead Reservation. Under the agreement, approved by resolution of each of the governing bodies, the Tribes and the County have agreed to collaborate and cooperate to identify solutions to repair, rehabilitate, and maintain roads, bridges and culverts on the Flathead Reservation and Lake County.
“An agreement like this makes sense for all of our citizens. The two governments have the resources between them to replace and repair infrastructure essential to all,” said Lake County Commissioner Chairman Gale Decker. Both governments provide services and maintain infrastructure within a common territory where the County and the Reservation overlap. “We want to identify areas where we can work together to reduce costs, enhance services, improve infrastructure, and identify potential funding,” Tribal Chairman Tom McDonald remarked on the agreement, “and working together to make our roads safer is yet another great opportunity for us and our community.”
The Tribes and the County have been parties to a long-standing transportation agreement that facilitates the use of Tribal transportation funding to make improvements to Lake County Road infrastructure. Under that agreement, the Tribes have made financial contributions to projects on county roads such as the Michel bridge. Under the new agreement, the parties have broadened their abilities to collaborate dramatically by including joint efforts to secure additional sources of funding, contributions of labor and materials, and long-range planning for future transportation infrastructure needs.
This past summer the Tribes and the County collaborated on emergency repairs to a bridge on St. Mary’s Lake Road. As a result of serious safety concerns, the Tribes and the County cooperatively developed a plan to make emergency repairs to the bridge by identifying an outside funding source facilitated by the Tribes and using existing County labor and materials. As a result, the parties were able to repair the bridge quickly and efficiently without imposing unnecessary burdens on local taxpayers. “Saving property tax dollars is always important to all of the Commissioners,” Decker commented.
The County and the Tribes have been parties to several intergovernmental agreements over the years. “This agreement builds upon existing agreements that have worked well for many years, which includes the long-standing transportation and law enforcement agreements between the County and the Tribes,” said Chairman McDonald.