Free water no more

Five City of Big Timber and Public Works Department employees have been receiving free water, sewer and garbage for years as a benefit of working for the city, but that perk will no longer remain for new employees hired after July 1.

City employees hired after that summer date will not be eligible to receive those benefits, but current employees will be grandfathered in, City Clerk and Treasurer Gayle McPherson told the council during an April 10 work meeting.

The five city employees who are eligible to receive those benefits include: Gayle McPherson, Marilyn Raisland, Kris Novotny, Austin Thompson and Josh Schaub. However, not every employee utilizes the full benefit.  

The free services have been offered to employees for more than 20 years, McPherson said. 

“It’s always been that way for years and years,” she said. “It’s been at least 23 because I’ve been here that long.”

McPherson also reported that several residents along the head end of the water line have been receiving a free connection and water in lieu of the city paying for an easement per a “good ol’ boy” deal made years ago. These residents include Gene Langhus, Bill Heaney and Bryan Sondeno. 

“In actual fact it would have been cheaper to pay them the easement,” McPherson said adding that the combined usage of the three homes is nearly 1 million gallons of water per year, a value of approximately $1,000, given the current water rate of $1 per thousand gallons, according to McPherson. 

The agreements were made so far back that the council did not have the original agreements in hand as of the April 10 meeting. The agreement has been passed down through the different owners possibly since the ‘30s.

The council will determine what they will pay for an easement instead of offering free water upon the arrival of new landowners.

To read the full story, pick up the April 20 edition of the Pioneer or subscribe to our e-edition. Current subscribers are provided complimentary access to the e-edition with registration.


By Olivia Keith / Pioneer Staff Writer




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