CS Masthead

mnastatewides

Disincorporation Vote Imminent For Brockton

After nearly two years of being a non-functional town government, a vote on whether or not to disincorporate the Town of Brockton is coming via the Roosevelt County Commissioners in early January.
The vote will be proceeded by a public comment, held in the Brockton School administration boardroom, which will take place Jan. 4 at 6 p.m.
The commissioners are asking for any public comments or suggestions prior to the vote. However, it seems inevitable that the Town of Brockton might cease to exist in the near future.
“Our hands are tied,” said county commissioner Gary Macdonald when discussing the upcoming meeting and vote. Macdonald said that ideally a few good people would step up and take over so that the town didn’t have to be disincorporated, but that after two years of not functioning as a government body it’s on the commissioners to step in and disincorporate.
The Brockton Town Council voted unanimously to disincorporate Oct. 18, 2016. The council’s reasoning behind the vote was that the town had accumulated such a large amount of debt that it was on the verge of losing basic services such as water, electricity, sewage and trash.
One year ago, in December 2016, The Herald-News talked to former Deputy Roosevelt County Attorney Anna Rose Sullivan who was working to save Brockton at the time. Sullivan has since left her position with Roosevelt County to continue her career in private practice.
However, at the time, Sullivan said that the financial records of the town indicated that finances had likely been mishandled for years. Sullivan was working to ensure that Brockton’s residents never lost access to basic services, which they did not.
Sullivan worked not only with the county but with the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board to try and solve Brockton’s issues. Though all parties had the same goal in mind, Brockton’s situation never got better.
If Brockton successfully “disincorporated,” then it would cease to be a “town” under Montana state law. Services for the town would no longer be provided by a local governing body, but would instead be managed by the county and/or the tribes. The property of the town would be turned over to the county commissioners and the county would absorb Brockton’s assets, very few that they are, along with its debt.
According to MCA 7-2-4915 disincorporation would not “invalidate or affect any right, penalty or forfeiture accruing to the city or town or invalidate or affect any contract entered into or imposed upon the corporation, but all the contracted indebtedness and obligations remain unimpaired by reason of the disincorporation of the city or town.”
Essentially what this means is that anything Brockton owes or has agreed to in the past will essentially fall on the commissioners and taxpayers of Roosevelt County.
At the time, Sullivan said that “this is why we are proceeding cautiously, because we don’t know the extent of the debt and Roosevelt County can only absorb so much.”
At this time, Brockton is not legally disincorporated despite having voted to do so over a year ago. As of the 2010 census, the per capita income for Brockton is $8,231, which puts just over half of the population living below the poverty line.