Letter contained inaccuracies
Last week, Susan Lake wrote some very incorrect statements about the BIA authority to increase the cost of irrigation water.
1. The BIA does not own Flathead Irrigation Project. The United States of America does. Just like the USA owns Mission Valley Power, the CSK Tribe is the operational entity of MVP, the BIA is the temporary operating entity of Flathead Irrigation Project.
2. The BIA was not in existence in 1904 and 1908 when the laws were written - the Indian Service was in charge of Reservations. The BIA was formed decades later, the Bureau of Reclamation was responsible to survey and construct Flathead Irrigation, and loaned engineers and managers to Flathead Irrigation.
3. Remember your civics and U.S. history classes - who under our federal and state constitutions has the legal authority to assess taxes to the public? The U.S. Congress, State Legislature, counties of the States, incorporated towns and cities, state-formed governing boards or irrigation districts, can assess the people of the USA, no government or state agency.
4. The Flathead, Mission, and Jocko Irrigation Districts are legally formed under Montana code and have the power to assess irrigation water costs, to be done by August, each year. Lake, Sanders and Missoula counties collect fees and distribute to the districts, fees to fund FIP O&M costs each year, trust and non-district O&M are paid directly to Flathead Irrigation Project.
5. The BIA is the most sued agency in the United States. Just about every Indian tribe in America, has sued the BIA for financial mismanagement. Irrigation projects like ours are managed in the same fashion. Let’s not forget the $2,500,000 moved by the BIA after the irrigators’ CME fell apart in 2014.
6. Yes, the project manager or operator of Flathead Irrigation sits down yearly, to make a budget, and should sit down with the three districts and form O&M costs and operation plans, not Federal registrar first. Two years ago in a meeting, Mrs. Lake told the BIA that maybe a $7.50 increase is not enough, maybe $10 would be more appropriate. Who is she looking out for?
Mission District Commissioner